Jerusalem is Populating a Biblical Zoo

And I said, WTF? Then I remembered, people in Jerusalem are there because they believe its the promised land, given by God to the Jews. They are just as nutty as the christians, the muslims and all the other religions.

So these zookeepers over in Jerusalem are trying to sort of reconstruct the animals from the bible (old testament, of course) in Israel. They aren't trying to repopulate the area with the biblical predators like bears, but they are trying to bring back vultures, even though Levitucus 11:13 called them detestable. Which makes me wonder why they'd want to nurture and breed them. And why cherry-pick certain animals but not the rest from the bible? But why try to get logical now?

Almost 100 animals were mentioned in the bible, according to the fluffy, credulous HuffPo article where I found this ridiculous story, so of course, I am quite skeptical. I guess that's how Noah was able to get them all on the ark, then. He only had 100 or so to deal with, not the millions found in the world today.

There are nearly 100 different types of animals mentioned in the Bible, many of them key players in well-known stories: the lions in Daniel's den; the dove that scouted for dry land from Noah's ark; the ram that was sacrificed by Abraham to save the life of his son, Isaac.

Today, many of them are gone, hunted to the point of extinction or driven away by ongoing conflict. Of the 10 animals that are listed as acceptable dinner fare in Deuteronomy 14 -- ox, sheep, goat, deer, gazelle, roe deer, wild goat, ibex, antelope and mountain sheep -- only two (the gazelle and the ibex) could still be found in the historical boundaries of Israel in 1960. ...

"... I want to keep the vultures because they were mentioned in the Bible that it was a common animal and that's good enough for me."

Shkedy, [a chief scientist for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority] has spent the past 15 years trying to repopulate Israel with biblical animals. He works with zoo keepers like Yedveb across the country, closely monitoring and coordinating their efforts to return animals like the Griffon vulture to the wild.

While Shkedy would love to bring back lions and hippopotamuses, he focuses on the animals that realistically stand a chance to thrive again, like Persion fallow deer and vultures. "Israel is now too dense to reintroduce predators, large predators," said Shkedy. "We lost the bear for example, but who would be brave enough to bring back a bear?"

...In the Bible, vultures are only mentioned by name in a few places; some conservationists believe translators confused them with more frequently mentioned eagles. More recently, vultures have been victims of poisoning. "Farmers want to kill wolves and jackals that hunt their chickens and cattle, so they put out bait to poison them, and because vultures eat dead animals, they get poisoned too. Then they die."

...For Shkedy, the fight to save Israel's natural wonders is personal. When his parents emigrated from Europe in 1947, they wanted to fulfill the Zionist dreams of their ancestors by working the land with their own hands. The dream has shifted in subsequent generations, he said. .... "We should keep in mind that we didn't come to this country just because we wanted to see a sea of houses. We came to this country ... because of biblical things."

Now, I'm all for conservation and preservation of wildlife and the environment. In fact, I often prefer the company of animals to that of most people. :P  But trying to recreate Zion in Jerusalem with biblical animals seems nutty.

Then again, following a 3,000 year old set of dusty books as the inerrant word of a god that doesn't exist also qualifies as delusional and nutty, especially when, 2,500+ years later you're still fighting and killing over a small piece of land that your supposed god gave to you.

So, trying to take care of some animals that once lived in an area is a good thing, but the quacky reasoning is not.

And if you read the article, maybe they need to stop poisoning the other animals which lead to the deaths of the vultures in the first place? Maybe it's just me, but I would guess that would be really helpful. Raising baby vultures then sending them out into the wild just to be poisoned seems pointless. Fix the real problem first, don't you think?

I thought I'd share this just to remind us that religious quackery is worldwide. I really wonder if humanity will ever give up its childish need for a sky daddy. Somehow I doubt it.

The other day I was talking to my fellow atheist friends about superstitions. We came to the conclusion that people seem to need their superstitions, and if you take one away from someone who feels their life is out of control, they'll simply replace it with another one. Of course, that's not scientific, but it would be interesting to see a study where that was done.

I think you can give up superstitions, even though it can be very tough. Look at all of us atheists and skeptics. Most of us were believers at some point. Most of us gave up gods, Santa and the Easter Bunny. Some of us have gone so far to give up superstitions as well. And have learned to be skeptical, critical thinkers. So it can be done.

But I think for the average person it's not easy or natural or even wanted. They are happy to believe in the supernatural in a myriad of ways. And that's just how it is.


  1. I'm curious where they will get leviathans (, dragons (, and unicorns (
    Sorry I didn't just embed the links; I'm still a noob and couldn't get it to work right.

  2. Oh well, looks like the links worked anyway. Yippee!

  3. Because remember kids, the other animals aren't biblical, so they're the evil products of the evil evilution controlled by the devil.

  4. Right, that explains the wanton destruction of the planet, I guess.

  5. Excellent point, Revatheist! :)
    There are others too... the cockatrice is one that comes to mind.