Welcome to the world of the wild

Dubai Safari Park

Now, you do not need to wait until January 2018 to visit the Dubai Safari Park, as it will be open for two weeks and that too for free! Enjoy a glimpse of the wildlife at its best.

An official at the Dubai Municipality announced recently that the much-awaited Dubai Safari would open up officially in January 2018. It seems like a long wait, doesn’t it? Fret not, because for two weeks until then visitors would be given free entry to the 119-hectare wildlife park, which has over 2,500 animals.

The two-week free visit, which started December 12, will see visitors being given entry daily from 9 am until 5 pm, director-general of Dubai Municipality Hussain Nasser Lootah told Gulf News. He added the official date for the opening would be revealed at the end of December.

“We have opened on a trial basis now. We hope to open officially after two weeks,” Lootah said.

The first phase of the project, costing Dh 1 billion, covers 119 hectares and is in Al Warqa’a and includes Asian, African and Arabian villages.

The safari has white and orange Siberian tigers, lions from South Africa, giraffes, chimpanzees, peacocks, ostriches, crocodiles, and hyenas, to name a few. The visitors would also be treated to a drive-by through a waterbody inhabited by crocodiles, and exhibits having hippos and tigers. A novelty in the Dubai Safari is the underwater viewing of pygmy hippo, which is a first for the country. Apart from this, it also has the largest walk-through aviary in UAE. Also, don’t forget to take a look at the troop of baboons who are sure to entertain you.

The Dubai Safari was built in place of the 50-year-old Dubai Zoo in Jumeirah, which had more than 1,000 animals, reptiles, and birds. Officials said animals are given the best possible care and were selected after tests were conducted to ensure their fitness. Experienced keepers and trainers have also been hired to take care of the animals in the safari.

The safari is equipped with misting fans, chilled water, air-conditioned artificial rocks to keep the animals cool during summer. Muddy ponds, pools and similar water bodies are also present in the safari.

Apart from this, a veterinary hospital would also be set up soon to provide treatment and care to the animals. The Dubai Safari is also working on a breeding programme at its conservation centre. The programme is aimed at releasing animals into the wild every year.

Timothy Husband, technical director of Dubai Safari, said looking at the site now it was “hard to visualize what was here just a few years ago”.

“It was a challenge finding the right collection. For example, we would have looked at 100 giraffes before selecting the right ones for Dubai. It has been important for us to go around the world to interview these people to get the right people in place,” Husband told The National.

Unfortunately, not all is well at the Dubai Safari. Last week, the Gulf News reported one of the first set of white lion cubs died soon after being born. The reason has not been revealed.

Another matter of disappointment is that a herd of white elephants, which were supposed to be one of the biggest attractions, hasn’t arrived as yet.