Croc­o­dile park will go deep into his­tory of species

Park boss pledges to of­fer un­ri­valled in­sight into species

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Shoshana Ke­dem @B_Shosh shoshana@7days.ae

Malaw­ian-themed lakes, a nat­u­ral his­tory mu­seum and a huge aquar­ium open day and night will be among the high­lights of the new Dubai Croc­o­dile Park, its man­ager has said.

Mo­hamed Oues­lati said three African-themed clear wa­ter basins, each sep­a­rated by a wa­ter­fall, will be home to some 300 fresh­wa­ter croc­o­diles.

About 200 are cur­rently at a fresh­wa­ter farm in Ger­many that breeds for game re­serves, sa­faris and zoos around the world.

“The them­ing will be Malaw­ian lakes – crys­tal clear wa­ters, very colour­ful fish,” Oues­lati said.

“The nat­u­ral his­tory mu­seum about croc­o­dile evo­lu­tion, species and preda­to­rial habits – these are the high­lights.”

The at­trac­tion on the edge of Mushrif Park in Mirdif will con­sist of a main build­ing con­nected to a walk­way with three basins with wa­ter­falls in between each. There will also be is­lands for the crocs to swim between. Two other build­ings serv­ing as an ex­hi­bi­tion on the evo­lu­tion of croc­o­diles and an aquar­ium, il­lu­mi­nated for night vis­i­bil­ity, are among the other high­lights un­veiled. Oues­lati said: “The aquar­ium will be the big­gest aquar­ium ever made for crocs, with 25 me­tres of acrylic filled with half a mil­lion litres of wa­ter.” An ex­hi­bi­tion ex­plor­ing the species’ Juras­sic roots will chart 10 mil­lion years of croc­o­dile evo­lu­tion from the di­nosaur age and il­lus­trate their preda­tory and sur­vival habits. Vis­i­tors will also have the chance to hold baby crocs and learn first-hand about their feed­ing and hunt­ing habits. Oues­lati said: “Our croc­o­dile keep­ers are col­lect­ing some ba­bies and will present them to the pub­lic. “At one month they are like lizards, very small, 25cm. This kind of ex­er­cise is a ed­u­ca­tional tool for kids.” The park was slated to open in early 2017 but Oues­lati said the launch will now be later next year. He said bring­ing so many rep­tiles to the coun­try will be com­plex: “The chal­lenge is the trans­port and the weather adap­ta­tion, these are our main con­cerns. We can­not move the croc­o­diles dur­ing the hot sea­son.

“So we need to do it in the spring or in the fall.” The com­mu­nity is ex­pected to pro­vide a glimpse into how the hier­ar­chy among the species op­er­ates, which rangers and the vis­i­tors will have the chance to study.

Oues­lati said: “What is in­ter­est­ing is how they be­have, their so­cial life. It’s all about what’s hap­pen­ing with this pop­u­la­tion of crocs, their space con­trol, the dom­i­nant males, the fe­males nest­ing.

“Vis­i­tors will feel some­thing dif­fer­ent. They will feel a cer­tain prox­im­ity to na­ture and will feel a very par­tic­u­lar at­mos­phere in gen­eral.

“It will be to­tally dif­fer­ent from any­thing you’ve ever seen.”

BITE: A full-size croc­o­dile

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