Crea­tures great and small

Sa­fari park com­ing to­gether after global hunt for species

7 Days in Dubai - - NEWS - By Shoshana Ke­dem @B_shosh shoshana@7days.ae

For the last two years Dubai Sa­fari boss Tim Hus­band has been trav­el­ling the globe on a com­plex mis­sion to find the an­i­mals to pop­u­late the new park.

Along the way he and his staff have face prob­lems se­cur­ing species be­cause of bird flu and ge­netic de­fects.

But the park’s devel­op­ment is en­ter­ing the fi­nal stages and its en­clo­sures will soon wel­come 350 rare and en­dan­gered species from Africa, Asia and Europe.

On a re­cent trip to an an­i­mal sanc­tu­ary in Jo­han­nes­burg, Hus­band hand-se­lected a cou­ple of pygmy hip­pos, a pair of baby leop­ard cubs and four cara­cals, tiny wild cats na­tive to the sa­van­nah and sub-sa­ha­ran Africa.

He said: “We’ve turned down a lot of an­i­mals be­cause they weren’t quite the qual­ity we were after.”

Hus­band also se­cured sev­eral species of an­te­lope, pri­mates, cave hunt­ing dogs, jack­als and hye­nas that will soon be de­liv­ered to the fa­cil­ity in Al Warqa. He said: “We’ve got deer ar­riv­ing in

a week or two and then it will start snow­balling from small rep­tiles to big­ger an­i­mals. A group of Asian ele­phants will also be com­ing within the next few days, fol­lowed by a pride of ten African tawny li­ons from Mount Fuji in late Novem­ber.”

They will join four re­homed li­ons, which haven’t been de­clawed, and nine li­ons im­ported from Seoul Grand Park zoo in March for the African Vil­lage – one of four ex­hibits at the new park.

He con­tin­ued: “We are go­ing to the Czech Re­pub­lic next for Ko­modo dragons.”

“We’re not al­lowed to get birds out of South Africa or Africa at all be­cause of the bird flu, while some of the best bird col­lec­tions are there. We’ll find the birds in some of the clean Asian and Euro­pean coun­tries.”

In ad­di­tion, six Ben­gal tigers brought in from a breed­ers in Africa will soon stalk the ex­panses of the park’s drive-through sa­fari.

The zoo is de­signed for a to­tal ca­pac­ity of more than 10,500, an­tic­i­pat­ing a host of aban­doned ex­otic pets. Other res­i­dents in­clude more than 1,000 an­i­mals be­ing moved from the cramped two-hectare site at Dubai Zoo in Jumeirah.

IN THE WILD: Hus­band with a baby gi­raffe (above) and with a cara­cal (right) in South Africa

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