We will do our best for abandoned pets
Dubai Safari director says dumped big cats will be nurtured back to health
Traumatised exotic pets that have been abandoned in the UAE will be rehabilitated in a special enclosure at Dubai’s new safari park.
Gorillas and lions are among the animals that will be cared for, including the so-called ‘Lioness of Al Barsha’ (pictured), who was found roaming the streets of Dubai earlier this year.
Dubai Safari boss Tim Husband said in some cases the lions’ claws have been removed, meaning they could never be returned to the wild or mix with lions with claws. He compared it to “having a pillow fight with someone with a knife”.
Five lions, as well as primates, birds, a crocodile and snakes, will be relocated from the existing Dubai Zoo to the new 119-hectare safari park at Al Warqa.
“A lot of the animals were dumped at the gates at night or intercepted at the airport by customs officials,” said Husband, the Project Manager, recalling incidents where officials would phone to say crates of monkeys had been discovered in cargo.
“We have two gorillas who came through customs 20 years ago when they were just babies,” he added.
A special enclosure will be opened for lions who have been declawed, such as the lioness found in Al Barsha.
“Now she can never be put back in the wild,” he said. “We’ll try to build a pride with these declawed lions.”
The other four rehomed lions, which haven’t been declawed, will join nine lions imported from a zoo in South Korea in March for the African Village, one of four exhibits at the park. Husband said he was aware the opening of the new safari may result in the dumping of more animals. “A special quarantine facility just for these animals will be built, to carry out medical checks and to see if they have been illegally obtained or if they are suitable for our collection,” he said. “We’ll also try to get some of them back into the wild.” Animal specialists will also assist domesticated primates whose captivity has caused psychological problems, he said. Husband added: “A lot of people don’t realize you can never own wildlife. You only have the honour of being in the guardianship of them.” A grand opening of the zoo is expected in January, although a soft opening could take place in October.
NEW HOME: One of the park’s lions at play