Is­rael’s First Aquar­ium to Open in Jerusalem

The Jewish Voice - - TRAVEL - By: Andrew Fried­man

Jerusalem may seem an un­likely lo­ca­tion for Is­rael’s first aquar­ium – the city is ap­prox­i­mately 850 me­ters above sea level, with no nat­u­ral bod­ies of wa­ter in the area. But Shai Doron, CEO of the cap­i­tal’s Tisch Fam­ily Zo­o­log­i­cal Gar­dens, says that as a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to the na­tional bio­di­ver­sity plan and as Is­rael’s cap­i­tal, the zoo was by far the most log­i­cal place for the ma­rine cen­ter.

“We have a lot of credit with the Na­tional Parks Au­thor­ity, and with the pub­lic,” Doron told re­porters dur­ing an ad­vance tour of the site, lo­cated on the grounds of the zoo (com­monly known as the Bib­li­cal zoo due to its fo­cus on wildlife na­tive to the land of Is­rael that is men­tioned in the To­rah). “We’ve done projects to study the Sea of Galilee, as well as the Dead Sea. So we’ve got a lot of back­ground to run it.”

The aquar­ium, known of­fi­cially as the Gottes­man Fam­ily Is­rael Aquar­ium, is the re­sult of a NIS 100 mil­lion ini­tia­tive funded in part­ner­ship with the Ruth L. and David S. Gottes­man Fam­ily Fund of New York, the Min­istry of Tourism, the City of Jerusalem, Jew­ish Na­tional Fund and sev­eral pri­vate donors. The build­ing, a shin­ing 6,500 square meter struc­ture on the grounds of the zoo, will house 30 tanks and half a mil­lion gal­lons of sea­wa­ter with ad­vanced main­te­nance sys­tems to en­sure ap­pro­pri­ate habi­tats for aquatic crea­tures. It is due to open by the end of July (no date has been set in or­der to pre­vent “short­cuts” be­ing taken).

The ex­hi­bi­tion will fea­ture a va­ri­ety of ma­rine life in­clud­ing var­i­ous species of shark, co­ral, tur­tles and of course fish.

In ad­di­tion, the aquar­ium will build on the zoo’s breed­ing and con­ser­va­tion work, in­clud­ing the ex­ist­ing Wet Side Story ex­hibit which high­lights lo­cal species such as the Dead Sea tooth carp, the Galilee blind shrimp, the Yarkon bleak, the Druse bleak, Liss­ner’s bleak, and Dor’s loach as well as some North Amer­i­can species in­clud­ing the Bar­rens top­min­now, the gold­breasted splitfin, and the but­ter­fly good­eid.

Aquar­ium of­fi­cials say they must man­u­fac­ture salt­wa­ter with the “cor­rect” com­po­si­tion in or­der to en­sure the health of the fish, and added that the venue will em­ploy a va­ri­ety of state-of-the-art sus­tain­abil­ity mea­sures, in­clud­ing wa­ter re­cy­cling, a green roof cov­ered with veg­e­ta­tion to ab­sorb rain­wa­ter, pro­vide in­su­la­tion. There will also be a wet­lands pond at the aquar­ium en­trance that will act as a wa­ter fil­tra­tion sys­tem for the fa­cil­ity.

“You can’t take sea­wa­ter from the sea of Tel Aviv,” he said. “It’s not good enough for our needs.

“You can’t take short­cuts with fish, we have to make them com­fort­able in their new en­vi­ron­ment,” Doron said.

The aquar­ium, known of­fi­cially as the Gottes­man Fam­ily Is­rael Aquar­ium, is the re­sult of a NIS 100 mil­lion ini­tia­tive funded in part­ner­ship with the Ruth L. and David S. Gottes­man Fam­ily Fund of New York, the Min­istry of Tourism, the City of Jerusalem, Jew­ish Na­tional Fund and sev­eral pri­vate donors.

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