July 10 (UPI) -- Tel Aviv University on Monday opened up its new natural history museum, a $40 million structure meant to resemble a large treasure chest.
The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History holds some of the country's most valuable treasure -- 5.7 million examples of the region's flora and fauna, some of which are now extinct. Among the items housed at the museum are the last crocodile from the Taninim River, the last bear from 1916 and an Asiatic cheetah from 1911 -- all stuffed.
Tamar Dayan, who chairs the museum, also compared the facility to Noah's ark as "a symbol of conservation and of bringing all the world's animals together."
The 103,000-square-foot facility a migration of birds mid-flight, interactive tools and media, and films on Israel's biodiversity over the past few hundred years. The museum will feature eight permanent exhibitions along with one temporary space.
Museum officials said it's meant to stand as a call for preservation of the country's ecosystems.
"It's unusual to have a museum established in the 21st century, but this is the time," Dayan told USA Today. "We've realized the challenges are huge, but if we don't deal with them now, it's going to be too late."