Photography

Long-dead critters animate Israel’s nature museum

Oded Balilty/AP

The hyena, pelican and monkey had never met before they were frozen in time in a Noah’s Ark of formaldehyde.

For decades they resided below ground at Tel Aviv University.

The creatures were meticulously labeled and maintained under a steady temperature to preserve them for research purposes.

But the animals never did appear to be dead in the room with little air or daylight.

Oded Balilty/AP

Oded Balilty/AP

They were stuffed into poses taken from the lives they once lived. A bear seemed to prowl the room, while a cheetah looked as if it was chasing its prey.

Part of the collection is from German naturalist and Catholic priest Ernst Johann Schmitz, who lived in the Holy Land about a century ago, and it includes animals that are no longer seen in the region.

Last month, the long-dead animals surfaced — reincarnated as exhibits at Israel’s new natural history museum, set to open in July.

Associated Press photographer Oded Balilty was granted access to the animal storeroom ahead of the museum’s opening. Here are his impressions.

Oded Balilty/AP

Oded Balilty/AP

Oded Balilty/AP

Oded Balilty/AP

Oded Balilty/AP

Oded Balilty/AP