One of childhood’s biggest disappointments when visiting the zoo is being told “The animals are sleeping”. In fact, although zoo visits are considered a daytime activity, many of our favorite animals are either nocturnal or sensibly stay out of doors during the heat of summer — not to mention our summer of sirens (click here for an amazing video of elephants protecting their young during an air raid).
There is something special about seeing animals after dark. With this in mind, over the past two months the Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan — popularly known as “the Safari” — hosted a special event called Magic at the Safari that integrated multimedia, lighting and technology within the animal enclosures, turning the zoo, for a few hours, into a sound and light experience for the whole family.
The project was constructed with animal welfare in mind, and was closely escorted by the Safari team led by a zoologist and a veterinarian. The yards used were populated only with those animals for whom the activity was deemed appropriate.
In addition, over several months prior to the event, the Safari team conducted nightly monitoring of the animals to ensure that the activity would not disturb them.
Although Magic at the Safari closes this weekend, the Ramat Gan Safari offers other nighttime activities throughout the year, including a romantic Midnight Safari train tour in the open African park that takes love as its theme.
“While watching the hippos and rhinos, zebras and ostriches, we talk about love – animal love, classical love, love of females, brave friendship between the female rhinos, dangerous courtship between the antelopes, and many others.” The tour includes a visit to the lions’ den and is spiced with a few racy stories about what goes on in there.
The Safari is, of course, also open during daylight hours and boasts the largest animal collection in the Middle East. It is unique in the world because of the large herds of mixed species of African animals that roam the spacious African Park. The African Park and the zoo are home to 1,600 animals of different species, amongst them 68 species of mammals, 130 species of fowl, and 25 species of reptiles.
The zoo contains a variety of animals from around the world. Especially notable are its breeding herds of African and Asian elephants, the gorilla, chimpanzee, and orangutan families, the hippo herd, and the pride of lions.
The Safari participates in 25 international programs for endangered species. It is a partner in breeding and reproduction programs and in research projects, a member of international zoological organizations, and cooperates in research and knowledge transfer between zoos and nature preservation organizations worldwide.
For more information, visit the Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan website at safari.co.il.
Photos by Edi Israel, courtesy of the Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan