The Israel Aquarium
The Gottesman Family Israel Aquarium, Jerusalem is Israel’s first aquarium, and it focuses on preservation of aquatic habitats and environment in Israel. This topic serves as the current challenge for nature conservation in Israel.
The experience of visiting the aquarium will lead you along a fascinating path, emphasizing Israel’s aquatic habitats – the Mediterranean Sea, The Red Sea, and even the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea.
The visitors’ path at the aquarium will lead you on a journey among the various aquatic habitats in Israel and the Mediterranean. You will encounter a variety of creatures from the Harduf shore to the depths of the open sea. At the Red Sea exhibit, you will become acquainted with its unique colorful fish and coral reefs.
The one-way path will take you through the enchanting worlds of the sea and the creatures who dwell within it.
The aquarium was designed in accordance with recommendations from Israel’s National Biodiversity Plan. These recommendations emphasize the urgent need for conservation of the aquatic environment in Israel. Habitats, fish, coral reefs, and all the other sea creatures are exposed to many ecological threats – sea and beach pollution, overfishing, and ongoing pressure from various causes, such as tourism, commerce, desalination, gas and oil drilling.
From all these stems the urgent need to build a center that will deal with conservation, research, education, publicity, and raising public awareness for protecting the sea and beaches. This is the Israel Aquarium, Jerusalem.ears, when the plan was completed – the Gottesman Family Israel Aquarium, Jerusalem.
Building the Aquarium:
In 2008, upon completion of the planning processes, land for expansion of the zoo was transferred, and the zoo’s area was increased by 135 additional dunam westward. Then, a long process of planning the future of the zoo began, including the expansion area.
Through a long and joint learning process, whose highpoint included a gathering of the zoo’s International Zoology Committee, (led by Professor Avi Provolotzky) it was decided that the first “anchor” project for the expansion area of the Biblical Zoo would be the aquarium.
The decision to develop the aquarium stemmed from several reasons:
Along with the discussion over the future development of the zoo, Israel’s National Biodiversity Plan was completed and approved. In it, special emphasis is placed on the topic of preservation of the aquatic environment in Israel.
A major recommendation of this program was to establish Israel’s first aquarium, for the sake of promoting public awareness for conservation of aquatic habitats and environments in Israel. At the same time, the goal was for the aquarium to promote the establishment of breeding groups and the topics of education, learning, and research in the field.
As a leading participant in the field of nature conservation in Israel, the Biblical Zoo saw the promotion of establishing the first aquarium in Israel as both an obligation and a privilege. In light of the zoo’s unique role in education and raising public awareness and its activities of nature conservation, it was natural for the zoo to fulfill the vision of establishing the aquarium.
Establishment of the aquarium emerged alongside the planning of the zoo’s future, such that the aquarium complements the zoo visit experience, enabling activity in all weather conditions and hosting visitors during evening hours.
There was also the fact that the aquarium may become a central tourist attraction in Jerusalem, and its establishment would contribute to tourism and economy for the city.
Along with establishing the aquarium, after determining the zoo’s various needs and targets, planning for the zoo’s ongoing development as a leading tourist attraction continued. It was decided that in the future, a night safari would be added to the zoo’s expansion area, as well as a butterfly house, an educational center for nature conservation, and more.
To establish the aquarium in Jerusalem, the zoo leadership began comprehensive learning about the topic, given that the aquarium to be built would be the first in Israel.
From the very beginning, it was decided that the aquarium would focus on presenting the aquatic habitats and environment of Israel.
The initiative was given the working title, “Sea Israel – the sea comes to Jerusalem,” while initial monies were raised for the feasibility study.
After completion of the first planning process, in cooperation with OK Bay Consulting in Oklahoma, USA, the plan was presented to the Gottesman Family Fund in New York, which gave their green light to establish the aquarium. Then, the detailed planning began.
Under the leadership of the Biblical Zoo, the Gottesman Family in New York joined together with other supporters from Israel and abroad. Together with an investment of resources from the zoo’s funds, and with the assistance of the Jerusalem Municipality and the Ministry of Tourism, the initiative started to take form with a scope of 100 million Shekels!
The entire initiative was planned by architect Lenny Raviv from the Raviv and Tal Architecture firm, along with OK Bay Consulting, and with assistance from the zoo’s staff and consultants and experts from around the globe.
In 2012, digging began on the zoo’s expansion area. In August 2013, construction began and continued for four years, when the plan was completed – the Gottesman Family Israel Aquarium, Jerusalem.