Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gan Guru - Australia meets Israel

Kangaroos chillin' at Gan Guru
While working together with my husband to fill out his US immigration application, I learned a little bit more about his every job since he was 16 years old onward. "You worked where??" I asked him. "Gan Guru", he said, "it's, a kangaroo place...". Stunned to find out a new fact about my husband that I had never known about previously (and equally ticked that he had never told me there was somewhere I could see kangaroos and koalas here in Israel), I questioned him about this mysterious "Gan Guru" place. After all, I studied abroad in Brisbane, Australia during college and have a special affinity for these animals. He said this Australian zoo was located on the property owned by Kibbutz Nir David in the north of Israel, not far from where he lived and attended high school on the Na'ale Program. Apparently, he and his other high school friends used to work at Gan Guru....picking up kangaroo dung...ugh, now I understand why he never felt the need to mention this oh-so-prideful first job of his. 

          

Well, of course, I had to go now that I knew this place existed. Gan Guru is the only place aside from Australia itself that you can roam around with the kangaroos and koalas, petting them, feeding them and posing with them for pictures. Also on the property you will see different sorts of exotic parrots, bats in cages, emus sitting on their giant eggs and an assortment of goats, bulls and farm animals. It is a wonderful family outing...and, uh....a great place for, say, a 28 year old with an affinity for animals.

Here we are driving through the north of Israel near Beit She'an and the beautiful Jezreel Valley, home to the famous Mt. Gilboa. 

Jezreel Valley from Mt. Gilboa (via google images)
Aerial view of Kibbutz Nir David via google images
Mount Gilboa in northern Israel




Kibbutz Nir David is located in the heart of Beit She'an with a view of Mt. Gilboa and the Jezreel Valley, as you've seen in the photos above. The scenery is green and lush, a complete 180 from Israel's southern desert terrain. Here are a few snapshots of the area:

   

It will cost you 39 shekels to get in, but it's well worth it once you enter the park and see these friendly creatures jumping gleefully around the property and approaching you unrestrained:

    

There are about 25 kangaroos lazing around in the sun and they are extremely people friendly, so don't be afraid to pet them and feed them (for just 1 shekel, you can get kangaroo food from a stand):

   

Some of these guys have little joeys in their pouches........SOOOO cute! Can you spot the little babies inside their mommies pouches?

   

    


Look at that little baby's head peeking out!
I finally got brave enough to crouch down near one of the kangaroos, but he wouldn't look at the camera. It's quite a feat trying to have the kangaroos smile for the camera! They just keep jumping around...

   

A kangaroo sipping water from the lake

A koala eating eucalyptus leaves

In a separate part of the zoo, away from the koalas and kangaroos, we found a sort of farm area sectioned off with a bunch of interesting animals....some emus, goats, peacocks...and even some bats!

   

   

Yuck! Those are a couple of bats hanging upside down in their cage
Rafi made a new friend, who went right for his shorts (I laugh out loud every time I see that photo)...but, in the end, the little guy cooperated for a photo. We wanted to take this little munchkin home, he let you hold him just like a cat and cuddle him just like a little baby!


And then there's me below (on the right, of course...) posing for my photo-op with our little baby friend:

  

Interested in visiting Gan Guru and Kibbutz Nir David? See here and here for more information. I promise you that a trip there will be well worth it!

4 comments:

  1. Oh. My. God. I am in love. How do you get there? How far is it from Jerusalem? How much does it cost? I need details so that I can persuade Or to take me to see kangaroos instead of working on his smelly old thesis! Kangaroo Babies > math.

    Plus, I like the new font and formatting on the blog.

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  2. I like the way you think Ariele! Your math is my kind of math :)

    The address is a little mysterious...Nir David Kibbutz, Beit She'an Valley,19150...see what I mean? They never give addresses for the Kibbutzim in Israel?! You're just supposed to know where it is or something?! Regardless, it's very easy to get to using rental car maps. It's just straight up the 90 from Jerusalem to Beit She'an, like 1.5 hour drive. A really pretty drive, too.

    Yes, I got a little crazy on the blog, didn't I? That's about as creative as I get when it comes to graphic design!

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  3. I think it's great. I forwarded this post onto Cliff and we spent at least 10 minutes talking (er...I mean...working) about how much we want to pick up kangaroo babies and nuzzle koalas. This is AMAZING. Thanks for the info. Hopefully Or isn't too scared of the word "babies" to go with me!

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  4. This is amazing! I can't believe this exists in Israel! So adorable-I miss our times in Brisbane getting to hold koalas and see them in the wild!

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