By Sam Sokol
Brooklyn’s Torah Animal World, the home of hundreds of stuffed and mounted specimens of animals mentioned in the Bible, will soon close due to lack of funds, local media reported this week.
The taxidermy museum – which the New York Post dubbed the city’s “weirdest museum,” and which for almost five years has aimed to offer Orthodox Jews a firsthand look at biblical animals – is located in a townhouse in the heavily hassidic neighborhood of Borough Park.
While the museum is still open for business, its owner and proprietor, Rabbi Shaul Shimon Deutsch, told News 12 Brooklyn that he had incurred “a lot of debt” and that donations had been slow.
There have not been as many sponsors as there used to be, he told the television station, and he has had to “make a decision, what is it that I can save, and what is it that I have to cut back on.”
Deutsch owns two other buildings adjacent to the taxidermy museum, which he is now placing on the market.
Around a quarter of the animals in his collection will be moved next door and become part of the Living Torah Museum, which he also runs. The rest of the collection, which he estimates is worth $1.5 million, will move to a branch in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York.
However, the rabbi is still hoping for a miracle, he told News 12 Brooklyn.
“If a sponsor came along and helped us, we would not sell,” he told the New York Post, adding that he needed a million dollars to keep Torah Animal World’s doors open to the public.
While the museum hosts 35,000 visitors a year at $10 a head, the revenues it has generated have been insufficient to defray the expenses of hosting the collection.
“A kid who is learning in school can come here and, in an hour, get to see the animals of the Bible. Get to see the birds of the Bible,” the rabbi told the New York Post. “This is the only place for them to go and see the animals in a biblical context.”
However, unless Deutsch can bring in some big cash fast, they will not be able to see those animals together for long.