Dinosaurs didn't go extinct. At least not all of them. Some evolved into birds, according to the latest paleontological thinking: from the mightiest of saber-fanged raptors we get today's feathered friends, from the smallest of sparrows to the looming ostrich. And Tel Aviv sports the biggest bird park in the Middle East.
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The park's name is Tzapari, a twist on the Hebrew word for bird – tzipor (which is also the source of the female name Tziporah – or "Tzipi" for short, as the justice minister is called) and the safari wildlife experience.
Located on 30 dunams of land studded with tropical plants, the park features a lot of birds in cages, a lake with swans, and – why not? – collections of reptiles, rodents and some other animals as well.
The birds in the park are generally not endemic to Israel, though some of the owls and ducks are. But good luck spotting owls in nature. Among the park's other birds are several imported parrot species, some nimble specimens of which appear in the bird-on-a-bicycle shows. There are also emus, flamingos, toucans, peacocks, crested cranes and much, much more.
As for the rodent population, the park has the usual petting-zoo fare of places for small kids – rabbits and guinea pigs, and the odd hamster. It also features meerkats and coatis, which are not rodents, they're small cute omnivores.
The Tzapari is a good place to spend a whole morning with kids; it's easy to reach and walk around, and geared for the young. If they need a break from animal appreciation, the park also has some playground facilities and the requisite restaurant and kiosk. There is also an arts and crafts corner where the kids can get creative, for an extra fee.
Phone number for more info: 03-6422888
Opening hours: Sunday through Thursday: 10 A.M. – 4 P.M.; Friday: 10 A.M. – 3 P.M.; Saturday: 10 A.M. – 6 P.M.
Do note that the Tzapari reserves the right to close early in the case of inclement weather.
Price: NIS 52 per person from age 2. Certain credit cards may entitle the holder to a discount. Tickets are available on the spot. The price does not include use of the arts and crafts facility, which costs extra.
Address: It doesn't have a precise street address. The most we can say is it's in Ganei Yehoshua, Park Hayarkon.
More helpfully, the Tzapari park is located off Rokach Boulevard, on your right if you're traveling east – from the shore towards inland.
If traveling east on Rokach, pass the entrance to the Ayalon Highway (which is very clearly marked) and after about 100 meters, turn right into the Ganei Yehoshua parking lot. Yes, it costs money to park there. It's always best to glance at a map before setting out.