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October 06, 1989 - Image 112

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-10-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

\

LEBANON

Mediterranean
Sea

Tel Aviv

I Beit Shean

• Jerusalem

Glenn Triest

The Elephant Keeper

Former Wayne State University
professor Hezy Shoshani has
been studying the evolution of
elephants for years. Now he
wants to bring them to a new
safari park in Israel.

KIMBERLY LIFTON

Staff Writer

H

anging on oppo-
site walls in
Hezy Shoshani's
Bloomfield Hills
condominium
are two huge photographs of
African elephants.
Nearby, a planter molded
into the shape of an elephant
sits on the floor. Notes are
scribbled on scratch pads
disguised as elephants.
Throughout the house is
more elephant parapher-
nalia — newspaper clipp-
ings, files of countless slides
and black-and-white glossy
photographs, authentic
bones, cartoons, coffee mugs
and drawings by children.
And wandering aimlessly
throughout the townhouse is
little Shafan, a pet hyrax
Shoshani transported direct-
ly from Israel. The size of a
cat, the hyrax, a mammal, is

84 FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6, 1989

the closest living relative to
Shoshani's favorite animal,
the elephant. Shafan's
Hebrew name translates to
mean the hidden one.
"I couldn't keep an
elephant at home, so I got its
closest relative," says
Shoshani, an Israeli who
moved to Michigan in 1969
to study veterinary medicine
and found his niche studying
Proboscidea, or mammals
with tusks.
Shoshani, who holds a doc-
torate from Wayne State
University, taught there for
19 years. Now he is a resear-
ch associate at Cranbrook
Institute of Science and a
geology teacher at Oakland
Community College.
He has a new plan to con-
tinue research. He hopes to
move to Africa or Israel to
study the mammals more
closely. But first, he must
complete a mission to help
his native homeland.
A recently created safari

park, called Ganei Chuga in
Beit Shean, Israel, needs
animals. Shoshani, who met
a Beit Shean family during a
working trip two years ago
to Africa, was contacted by
Beit Shean municipal offi-
cials to be the project's scien-
tific adviser.
"My job is to bring
elephants to the park in
Israel," he says. "This would
be attractive to tourists and
academicians. It would be
the first park of its kind in
the Middle East."
Located at the lowest
altitude in the world at 250
meters below sea level, the
grounds for the park would
enable scientists to test liv-
ing conditions of the animals
at that altitude. Also touted
as a haven for tourists, it
would allow visitors to ride
atop elephants.
South of the Sea of Galilee
and the Jordan River, Ganei
Chuga, the 300-acre park in-
corporates parts of Nahal
Harod, a tributary of the
Jordan River.
About a quarter of the
park will be set aside for
recreational purposes; the
rest will be fenced off so
animals can roam freely.
Visitors to the park will
have five options for enter-
ing the grounds. In addition
to riding through the park
on a tame elephant, tourists

can follow a footpath along
guided trails, ride in a vehi-
cle along the park's main
road, ride in a vehicle along
roads inside the safari park
and float in a rubber boat
along the Nahal Harod
river.
The animals to be housed
there will differ from those
kept at other nature parks in
the Middle East. The park
plans to purchase eight
elephants, two giraffes, two
okapis, two rhinoceroses and
14 other animals. Using
such game animals,
Shoshani says, will enable
scientists from Tel Aviv and
Jerusalem universities to
conduct behavioral,
ecological and physiological
experiments.
Shoshani, dressed in Mid-
dle Eastern sandals, jeans
and a T-shirt displaying an
elephant, talks passionately
about the park. He needs
help in raising about $1
million to bring the
elephants and other animals
to the park. He is targeting
Michigan investors.
The money, he says, would
cover building costs for the
animals' facility, upkeep,
food, his salary as adviser
and salaries for seven
employees.
The Israeli government
and three kibbutzim are
offering financial assistance.

Bethlehem

ISRAEL

JORDAN

50 miles

Hezy Shoshani (photo above) is
trying to raise $1 million for a new
safari park in Israel. The map
above shows the location of the
proposed park site.

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