Five-month de­lay for Dubai Sa­fari

Slow sum­mer progress on new zoo

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

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

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