From humble beginnings almost 70 years ago, Tel Aviv University's Zoological Garden has developed into the largest and leading research facility of its kind in Israel.
In 1931, natural sciences teacher Yehoshua Margolin founded the Biological- Pedagogical Institute on Yehuda Halevy Street in Tel Aviv. The aim of the Institute was to train teachers of nature studies for Israel's schools. Underpinning this endeavor was the belief that knowledge of nature is the best way to link people to their land. The Biological-Pedagogical Institute was erected in a place donated for the purpose by the Tel Aviv Municipality: a wooden hut that had formerly served as Tel Aviv's first synagogue. Margolin managed the Institute until his death in 1947.
Joining Margolin in his work was Prof. Heinrich Mendelssohn, who immigrated to Israel in 1933 and earned a doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After Margolin's death, Mendelssohn succeeded him as Director of the Institute.
Following the War of Independence in 1948, the Tel Aviv Municipality offered Prof. Mendelssohn the option of another, larger facility to serve as the Institute's home. The Institute moved to Abu Kabir, to a structure originally planned to be used as a hospital.
In 1953 the "University Institute for the Natural Sciences" was established and, in 1956, the Zoological Garden became part of the newly-established Tel Aviv University (TAU). In 1981 the zoo moved to its present location on the university campus in Ramat Aviv.
In 1995 the zoo was rededicated as the I. Meier Segals Garden for Zoological Research, in honor of the late I. Meier Segals of Montreal, a co-founder of the Association of Canadian Friends of TAU. An instrumental figure in gaining the support of Mr. Segals' estate was Prof. Lawrence Bessner, himself a major patron of the facility and the National President of the Canadian Friends as well as a TAU Honorary Fellow. The Garden's main building is dedicated to Prof. Lawrence and his late wife Terry.
The Segals Zoological Garden contains many different species of animals, the majority indigenous to Israel. This wide variety - of about 40 species of mammals, 100 species of birds, and 80 species of reptiles and amphibians - represents the variegated fauna of the country. In addition the zoo houses numerous kinds of fish and insects.
The Zoological Garden has three aims:
3. Nature conservation