All about the an­i­mals at new zoo

Dubai Sa­fari boss prom­ises five-star treat­ment for park’s 5,000 res­i­dents

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Shoshana Ke­dem @B_shosh

The boss of the new Dubai Sa­fari park has promised a bet­ter life for the thou­sands of an­i­mals that will shortly be call­ing it home. On an ex­clu­sive tour of the Dhs1 bil­lion, 119-hectare fa­cil­ity ahead of its Oc­to­ber soft open­ing, Tim Hus­band (pic­tured) told 7DAYS the park will fea­ture state-of-the-art tech­nol­ogy - such as rocks with air­con­di­tion­ing - to en­sure five-star treat­ment for the an­i­mals. The res­i­dents will in­clude more than 1,000 an­i­mals be­ing moved from the cramped quar­ters of the two-hectare Dubai Zoo in Jumeirah. As well as the Dubai Zoo an­i­mals, most of which were aban­doned or seized from lo­cal own­ers, thou­sands of an­i­mals are also be­ing im­ported from other zoos around the world.

“Dubai Sa­fari is a bet­ter place for them be­cause a lot of these an­i­mals are com­ing from third world coun­tries where the con­di­tions aren’t that great,” said Hus­band.

“One thing that makes us dif­fer­ent than a lot of sa­faris around the world is we don’t do snap­shots with a tiger or lion and we don’t do ele­phant rides. Ev­ery­thing is about the ethics for the an­i­mals.”

As well as air-con­di­tioned rocks, there will be sprawl­ing basins of spe­cially-cooled pools for an­te­lope, wa­ter buf­falo and rhino. Hus­band said: “We are mak­ing sure the en­vi­ron­ment here for these an­i­mals is bet­ter than where they’re com­ing from. “Even though it’s a hot desert we’re mak­ing sure that all their en­clo­sures, exhibits and hold­ing fa­cil­i­ties are kept at a good safe tem­per­a­ture so these an­i­mals won’t suf­fer at all. “All the cats - lions, chee­tahs and tigers - have air-con­di­tioned ar­eas, even the hye­nas have got it in some ar­eas.” A sprawl­ing crag of ar­ti­fi­cial rocks hous­ing their pride of nine male lions have built-in air con­di­tion­ing, while the chee­tah rock ex­hibit has mist­ing ma­chines un­der­neath. The cool­ing fa­cil­i­ties are pow­ered by so­lar pan­els on canopies shim­mer­ing over the car park in an ef­fort to re­duce the zoo’s car­bon foot­print. Raised atop the Al Warqa in­dus­trial area, the park has been con­verted from a for­mer rub­bish dump into a new haven for an­i­mals. “Only in Dubai can you turn a tip into a par­adise,” said Hus­band. “This was all land­fill, that’s why it’s so high. They capped it, fin­ished it and it’s fan­tas­tic.” When Dubai Sa­fari opens its gates at the end of the year, about 5,000 an­i­mals will roam the en­clo­sures. The zoo is de­signed for a to­tal ca­pac­ity of more than 10,500. “I’ve made sure the an­i­mals we are get­ting are way be­low the max­i­mum [ca­pac­ity],” he said. “We’ll still have a great pop­u­la­tion in to­tal close to 5,000 an­i­mals when we’re fin­ished but dou­ble that would be the max­i­mum.”

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