Five-month delay for Dubai Safari
Slow summer progress on new zoo
The opening of Dubai Safari has been put back until the end of March 2017, its director has said.
The emirate’s highly anticipated new zoo, which will eventually house thousands of animals, was slated for a soft opening this month with a grand launch in January.
But a hot summer slowed construction and also held up the importing of a number of rare breeds of animals.
While work continues to get the park ready for its new residents and visitors, it will soon be welcoming an influx of animals – more than two by two.
Tim Husband, Director of Dubai Safari, told 7DAYS the 119-hectare facility is now on track to open on “31st of March - 24 weeks’ time”.
He said the coming months, and the delay, will help park officials bed in hundreds of species and progress on their new homes is now picking up pace.
Husband said: “Now they can take off. The animals are starting to settle in. Now the weather’s got cooler we’ll start importing a lot of animals.”
He said the Asian-themed walk-through area, a large theatre, the main entrance and the restaurants are still a work in progress.
He said: “The whole park is 60 per cent finished, 70 per cent finished for the safari drive-through and the African village.
“The open safari village is 70 per cent finished, it just needs some fine tuning to take the rough edges off, making sure the moat system works.”
Dubai Safari has an on-site quarantine facility at which 50 animals are currently held, he said.
Husband said those animals should begin to move into their new homes this month.
He added: “It’s important they finish their quarantine safely so if they’ve got any exotic diseases, they’re not going to spread it.”
Husband added: “During that quarantine time you’ve got to take three different fecal samples and make sure they’re all clean. And if you get one wrong then it starts all over again. “The first ones that will finish properly will be the lions from Seoul Grand Park in Korea. Then they’ll be put in the outside back yards in the open area.” Meanwhile, managers will press ahead with a recruitment drive for the best zookeepers in the business. Husband said: “Finding the right staff is a big challenge always. At the end of the month I’ve got to go to Sri Lanka to recruit more staff, then India.” Husband, who cancelled his retirement plans to run the Dubai facility, is keen to recruit from within the UAE and pass on his skills to the keepers of the future. He said: “What I would like to do is find some locals who would really like to learn more about zookeeping.” So far there are “very few who want to get down and dirty with all the animals” but he said he is still trying. “That kind of passion is hard to find,” he added.
‘Finding the right staff is a big challenge always.’
– The Director of Dubai Safari, Tim Husband