As the Israeli public headed to the voting booths on Tuesday, the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo opened up its own traditional elections on the same day to find the most popular animal among visitors.
The lions, which usually gain the most votes, could be unseated by the elephants who ran a crafty election campaign that capitalized on the fact that they were the only animals that actually voted — literally.
At a public display of democratic duty, a pachyderm showed off the species’ dexterity by using its trunk to put an elephant-sized voting slip into a ballot box in the hope of charming the audience and nosing ahead in the elections.
However, Jerusalem Biblical Zoo Administrator Shai Doron cautioned that there could still be a surprising support for the turtles which, he noted, are carrying around the solution to the housing problem on their backs.
For the zoo, it was an opportunity to slip in some education as well as having fun. Each of the participating animals had a poster complete with campaign slogan and party identity code just like their human counterparts. However, the posters also included educational information about the species and preservation activities.
Sigalit Dvir Herz, a spokeswoman for the Jerusalem Zoo, said she began working on the party platforms 10 days ago.
The lion, who won the last election in 2013, called for a drop in meat prices in his campaign slogan while the elephants promised to form a “wide coalition.”
The zoo has been holding elections for king of the animal kingdom for some 15 years, with the late King Lieder, the zoo’s Asiatic lion, reigning for a great majority of that period. However, the new male lion, Ziv, who on Monday met his lionesses face to face for the first time, has not yet attained that sort of popularity.
In a recent, week-long poll held on the zoo’s Facebook page, the female elephants — Tamar, Suzanne, and Michaela — who are running on a united list, stampeded ahead with 36% of the vote. Ziv came in second with with just 8%, followed by the giraffes with 6%.
“The lions have had many years of grace,” Dvir-Herz said, “but the elephants are the front-runners.”
She said she expected up to 2,000 voters and that the final results, tallied by hand, would be in by 5 p.m. local time. As an extra incentive for visitors to take part in the event, keepers planned to hold a raffle with the winning voter getting a year’s membership at the zoo as a prize.
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