COGAT’s Exclusive Tour of the Tulkarm Zoo

Last week, an exclusive tour was held for representatives from COGAT and the Nature and Parks Authority  in Tulkarm  to examine the possibility of expanding the zoo in the city. A representative of the Nature and Parks Authority: “We have to strengthen cooperation activities and preserve nature”.

​The zoo in Tulkarm is considered one of the main attractions in the city. Recently, the zoo owner, Ra’ad Kharbat, became interested in the possibility of expanding the site and adding new animals—such as zebras, and leopards and bears from Jordan—which will make it an even more alluring tourist attraction.

The State of Israel oversees all entries and exits of animals from the Judea and Samaria region. The entry of wild animals into Judea and Samaria is approved only after carefully examining the place where the animals are supposed to arrive, in order to ensure that the animals will indeed receive all the appropriate conditions for them. The examinations are performed by representatives from the zoological society in Israel. Yesterday, staff from COGAT accompanied the tour at the zoo in Tulkarm, which examined the possibility to expand and develop the site. The tour was attended by a representative from the DCO, representatives from the Nature and Parks Authority, commanders from the Ephraim DCL and others.

 

In Judea and Samaria, there are only two zoos in the cities of Qalqilya and Tulkarm. The zoo in Tulkarm, owned by the Kharbat family, has been open for 7 years and covers an area of 20 dunams: “I have enough space to bring in new animals, but I do not want to develop the place before they get approval”, said Kharbat in an interview yesterday.The Tulkarm zoo also received a lion that arrived from Gaza in poor condition and underwent rehabilitation. The zoo consists of 6 permanent zookeepers, and a veterinarian who treats animals and works there with a group of veterinary students.

 

Kharbat says that there are many Israeli Arab visitors and Palestinian visitors from all over Judea and Samaria. During the week of Eid al-Fitr, Sunday through Thursday, 32,000 visitors visited the zoo.

Uri, a representative of the Nature and Parks Authority, who was present at the tour, said to the zoo owner at the end of the visit that he was impressed by the beautiful and clean conditions of the site, and added: “Our interest is to preserve nature. The most important thing that came out of the meeting is moving forward in strengthening cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian counterparts and preserving nature together.” Uri suggested that the zoo in Tulkarm should utilize the knowledge of the hospital of the Nature and Parks Authority and that their staff go on study tours in Israel. “Together we want to preserve nature and therefore, we must also receive information about damaged wildlife that reaches Tulkarm," he explained.

The two sides, Israeli and Palestinian, agreed to promote cooperation, exchange knowledge in the field and to see how the zoo in Tulkarm is being developed and upgraded. It was also agreed that with Israeli assistance, an educational program for children will be promoted at the zoo, which will deal with education for the preservation of animals and nature.