Abigail Klein Leichman
March 10, 2022

The new Hilary Tisch Biodiversity Exhibit and Butterfly House at the Tisch Family Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem marks the first exhibit of this type and scope in Israel.

Some 15 species of tropical butterflies fly freely among the visitors in a lush tropical garden kept at a toasty 28 degrees Celsius (82.4F), along with four exhibits displaying arthropods including bees, locusts, cockroaches and stick insects.

Arthropods are on display in the Jerusalem Zoo’s Butterfly House. Photo by Rachael Risby Raz

Glass display cabinets with butterfly pupae enable visitors to watch the process of butterflies being hatched and released into the enclosed garden.

“This exciting new exhibit brings to the zoo’s zoological collection a vital element that was missing until now – the world of insects and butterflies. This collection will allow tens of thousands of visitors to learn more about the full diversity of the animal world,” said Ziv Ayalon, CEO of the Tisch Family Biblical Zoo and Aquarium Israel.

A new resident of the Hilary Tisch Biodiversity Exhibit and Butterfly House at the Jerusalem Zoo. Photo by Rachael Risby Raz

Ayalon thanked the Tisch family for funding the 700-square-meter (7,535-square-foot) “place of beauty and peace” named in memory of Hilary Tisch, a family member who died in 2020 at age 36.

The zoo worked closely with the Ministry of Agriculture to create standards and guidelines for plant protection in the Butterfly House so as not to endanger natural habitats in Israel.

The Hilary Tisch Biodiversity Exhibit and Butterfly House at the Jerusalem Zoo houses 15 species of butterflies. Photo by Yosef Cohen

At least 110 species of butterflies  call Israel home. However, most of the butterflies in the exhibit — such as the blue morpho, shaded blue leafwing and Belus swallowtail — come from South America and arrive as pupae via air transport each week from a supplier in the United Kingdom.

A blue morpho from South America at the Jerusalem Zoo’s Butterfly House. Photo by Yosef Cohen

Admission to the indoor exhibit is included in the admission fee to the Gottesman Family Israel Aquarium.  It’s open Sunday to Thursday and Saturday from 9am to 4:30pm; Friday until 3:30pm.

A blue morpho butterfly. Photo by Lucas Godja, via Shutterstock

Other places to see butterflies in Israel are all on the west coast: Ramat Hanadiv public gardens in Zichron Ya’akov; the Butterfly Garden in Bat Yam; and the Butterfly Nursery in Hof HaCarmel near Atlit. Open only in spring and summer, the nursery charges admission and offers educational activities about the butterfly life cycle. Visitors can also feed the butterflies.

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