The original zoo was a tiny establishment in the center of Jerusalem - the pet project of Hebrew University zoologist, Prof. Aharon Shulov. Following the War of Independence, the zoo was relocated in 1951 to a 15 acre plot in what was then the outlying neighborhood of Romema, where it remained for forty years. During this time, the quaint and not-overly developed zoo - at one point managed by Talmudic authority Rabbi Adin Steinzaltz - became a local institution that was oft and quite widely frequented, if not for intellectual edification, then as a form of identification with the city and its idea of a zoo.
The zoo reopened in 1993 in the city's south-western sector - nearby the Malha Mall and industrial park, the new train station, and the up-and-coming Malha neighborhood. A joint effort of the Municipality of Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Foundation, the Jerusalem Development Authority, and the Israel Ministry of Tourism, its current management stresses its role as an educator - primarily in topics of nature and animal protection, preservation and environmental awareness. Recreational and educational activities target all ages and social groups, with an inclination towards inter-racial encounter programs. These include after-school activities, summer camps, guided tours, and other activities that involve observation and physical contact with the animals.