A BIT ABOUT MYSELF
My name is Shai Ben Ami, and back in the 1980's I went with my parents to visit the Old Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem. I was three years old when my parents and I watched the feeding of a huge hippo name Matti, and I told them that one day I would feed that hippo myself. Just a little more than 10 years later. I fulfilled my promise and fed the same hippo as a young volunteer in the Grass Eaters department in the New Biblical Zoo. Over the years I worked as a keeper, as well as a guide for groups of children and adults. In order to expand my professional horizons, I've visited dozens of zoos and aquariums in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Kenya, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, the Netherland and more. During these visits, I've been hosted by zookeepers and zoo employees, which gave me first-hand insight on the handling of rare animals and the new methods used in other zoos besides my own.
While simultaneously working at the zoo, I finished my BA in Sociology, Anthropology and European studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In addition, I also worked in the university as a manager and hosted groups of students. In 2012 I was accepted into a Master’s program in European-American studies at the University Of Regensburg in Germany. I wrote my thesis on the ways in which zoos present and contextualize their history in both America and Europe. As part of my studies, I interned in the headquarters of the European Association for Zoos and Aquaria in Amsterdam where I gained more international experience in policymaking, communication, and social media. After handing in my thesis in the fall of 2014, I decided to come back to Israel and establish 101 Zoos in order to share my experiences about animals, zoos and their interaction and relation to people.
Today I am the director of education of the new Gottesman Family Israel Aquarium in Jerusalem and a Ph.D. student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.