WASHINGTON (Aug. 14)
After six months delay due to snow storms, air line strikes and the DC-10 groundings, the Israeli town of Kiryat Gat, a community of 29,000, will be presented with two American buffalos in mid-August. The bison will fly on a one-stop El Al flight from Chicago. The pair are a gift from Kiryat Gat’s sister city, Buffalo, NY. They will be air lifted from Colorado to Chicago by United Airlines. Both United and El Al are carrying the bison as a public service.
The buffalos, the first in the Middle East, will be housed in the National Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem where special facilities have been constructed for their display and eventual breeding. The animals were supplied by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The gift was the idea of Joselyn J. Berg, chairman of the Buffalo-Kiryat Gat Sister City Foundation who contacted the International Communication Agency (ICA), (the newly formed agency whose responsibilities include private sector involvement and educational cultural affairs) with his idea. The private sector programs division of ICA worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sister Cities International, and United and El Al to coordinate the project.
Berg said, “The Sister City program is based on culture and developing friendship, so it was a natural gift. The buffalo is not only our city’s name sake and emblem, it is a rich part of our country’s heritage, and the zoo in Jerusalem was anxious to receive its first representative animal from North America.” The buffalo, more correctly known as American bison, is also the symbol of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Buffalo, NY and Kiryat Gat became sister cities in 1974 through the auspices of Sister Cities International, a nonprofit organization with headquarters in Washington, D.C. which currently links 675. U.S. cities with some 900 communities abroad.