Israel has some of the coolest and most unique animal attractions in the world. So take a break from the typical historical and religious attractions and visit any of Israel’s fascinating zoos, safaris or wildlife parks. We’ve found the best and most popular zoos in the country (like Haifa's zoo and the Zoological Center of Tel Aviv) along with some hidden gems (like the exotic bird park nestled deep within Park Hayarkon), all of which we promise will be an exciting adventure for the whole family. Prepare to explore animals of the expected and the not-so-expected.
The best animal parks in Israel
A 62-acre zoo with a lake at its center, the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo encompasses two levels, interconnecting pools and waterfalls. The zoo is surrounded by green hills and has grassy lawns with plenty of shade inside, and includes multiple research laboratories dedicated to wildlife conservation. Kids love the Noah’s Ark visitor center, a boat-shaped wooden structure with information and games pertaining to all the animals mentioned in the Bible.
Aptly nicknamed the Ramat Gan "Safari," The Zoological Center of Tel Aviv is as close to an African savannah as you can get, being only a few kilometers outside of Tel Aviv. The African safari park and zoo has over 1,600 species of animals from around the world, many of whom roam freely across the 250 acres of land. Stop by for a visit or tour to witness the hippos lounging in the water pools, the zebras sprinting across the plain, and the ferocious lion pride ruling over the entire park.
Located beyond Eilat’s port area, the Dolphin Reef offers an awe-inspiring atmosphere and experience for animal and nature seekers. Not only can you observe the dolphins from the floating piers and observation points, but you can also snorkel and dive among them. This ecologically unique site for both Israel and the world, houses a pod of bottle-nosed dolphins, where onlookers can witness them living first-hand in their natural habitat: playing, hunting and socializing. 10,000 square meters of open-ended sea allow the dolphins to come and go at will – none of them are captive.
While it may not be the largest exhibit in the park, it definitely is a memorable one. The great animal corner is free and it is located adjacent to multiple picnic tables and barbeque pits. The petting zoo, open daily, provides a charming for a hands-on approach with multiple breeds and species of animals. If you’ve brought the children for a day at Park Hayarkon, a trip to Pinat-Hai is well worth the detour.
Ramon Crater, known also as Mitzpe Ramon, is arguably Israel’s most dazzling site, located in the heart of the Negev Desert. Near the crater and the tiny Mitzpe Ramon village is the Alpaca Farm, an ideal starting point for desert rides. Most rides require neither riding skills nor special fitness, and the farm’s horses are known for their calm temper. All tours are led by experienced guides and advanced booking is needed.
Zapari is a bird safari park set in lush gardens with a beautiful mini-lake. Though the majority of the birds in the park are not native to Israel, a handful of species are. Among the park's other birds are imported parrot species, emus, flamingos, toucans, peacocks, crested cranes and much, much more. The Zapari is the best place to spend saturday morning with the kids as it is easy to reach and walk around. If the kids need a break from animal appreciation, the park also has some playground facilities and a small kiosk.
Get your hands a little dirty at Moshav Mevo Modi'im. The interactive tour of this moshav will teach you everything about goats, including an array of activities, such as goat milking, cheese making, and weaving raw sheep’s wool. The visit will also include a visit to some of the other animals living on the farm, including parrots and tortoises, and will end with a homemade Israeli lunch. Funding from the tours goes to help the Moshav’s livestock program.
Built into a canyon, the Haifa Educational Zoo is a classic zoo that promises an exciting day of animal exploration. With 350 animals, including a diverse collection of reptiles, birds, and mammals, children and adults alike will be occupied for hours watching all the creatures. After seeing every animal, take a break at the beautiful vista overlooking the Mediterranean seascape.
Explore Australia’s favorite wildlife without leaving Israel. GanGaroo is a lesser-known treasure for visitors who want to see kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, kookaburras, emus, exotic birds and other Australian creatures. The assortment of exotic animals found down under is sure to be a hit with visitors of all ages.