Res­i­dents re­live mem­o­ries as Dubai Zoo shuts


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Emi­rati doc­tor recre­ates pic­ture taken dur­ing his visit to fa­cil­ity as a child two decades ago |

BY SAJILA SASEENDRAN Se­nior Re­porter A s a child, Ah­mad used to of­ten visit Dubai Zoo with his sib­lings and fa­ther. He en­joyed in­ter­act­ing with the an­i­mals in what was Dubai’s first zoo.

Ah­mad is no longer that lit­tle Emi­rati boy. He is now Dr Ah­mad Farid, who works in a gov­ern­ment hos­pi­tal in Dubai. How­ever, the pic­tures taken by his fa­ther, Farid Mo­ham­mad Saadi Al Rais, kept his mem­o­ries about his zoo vis­its as a child alive.

When he heard that the 50-year-old zoo is clos­ing its doors to the pub­lic in a week as the an­i­mals are shifted to Dubai Sa­fari, his fa­ther, a for­mer Dubai Mu­nic­i­pal­ity en­gi­neer now work­ing with a pri­vate de­vel­oper, de­cided to head to the zoo with his fam­ily on Satur­day to re­fresh their mem­o­ries.

He took pic­tures of Dr Farid sit­ting on the same bench where he was pho­tographed over two decades ago. Since the lit­tle Ah­mad was hold­ing a Coke can in the old pic­ture, he bought a Coca Cola bot­tle to give the same feel to the new photo.

“It was fun,” said Dr Farid, who was ac­com­pa­nied by his par­ents, sis­ter and un­cle.

Tak­ing the trip down the mem­ory lane was a beau­ti­ful ex­pe­ri­ence, he told Gulf News.

“When­ever the weather was good we used to go and see the an­i­mals. I cher­ished the mo­ments with the lions, mon­keys and gi­raffes,” Dr Farid said.

“The place looked big­ger and ac­tive with many an­i­mals then. Even the cages had only two fences. Now, there are three.”

Like him, sev­eral res­i­dents who grew up vis­it­ing the zoo and live nearby would miss it once it closes on Novem­ber 5.

“It is a land­mark. It is go­ing to be missed,” said Le­banese ex­pa­tri­ate Jad Raed, who sees the zoo al­most ev­ery day when he goes for a jog.

“My nephew is re­ally sad

that it is clos­ing down. He used to visit the zoo now and then.”

“I will miss the sound of the birds and an­i­mals. The ca­coph­ony might have been a dis­tur­bance for those who live very close to the zoo. But for me, it was kind of en­ter­tain­ing to hear them oc­ca­sion­ally.”

Free park­ing zone

The street along the zoo is the only place where mo­torists do not have to pay for park­ing in Jumeirah.

Dr Reza Khan, prin­ci­pal wildlife spe­cial­ist with Dubai Sa­fari and Dubai Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, who served the zoo for 25 years, said the zoo man­age­ment had made a spe­cial re­quest to ex­clude the area from the paid park­ing zone. “We were con­cerned that peo­ple would be dis­cour­aged from vis­it­ing the zoo if it was made a paid park­ing zone,” he said

Res­i­dents have been flock­ing to the zoo even af­ter Dubai Mu­nic­i­pal­ity an­nounced that most of the an­i­mals have been moved to Dubai Sa­fari. While some came to catch the last glimpse of the wildlife in the fa­cil­ity.

Zahid Abid from Kyr­gyzs­tan, who lives in Aj­man, came with his fam­ily in­clud­ing two chil­dren. “I have taken my kids here two times be­fore. When I read on­line about the clo­sure of the zoo, I thought of bring­ing them again,” said Abid, a ground op­er­a­tions man­ager at Shar­jah Air­port.

Maria Eisa, an Emi­rati liv­ing in Ras Al Khaimah came with her twin boys aged two. “We didn’t know the zoo is clos­ing. On my way my brother called up and said it is closed, but when I rang them up, they said they are still open. So, we got a chance to see it.”

Dr Ah­mad Farid sit­ting on the same bench (left) at the Dubai Zoo where he was pho­tographed by his fa­ther over two decades ago. He even bought a bot­tle of Coca Cola to recre­ate the scene.

Javed Nawab/Gulf News

Res­i­dents have been flock­ing to Dubai Zoo even though most of the an­i­mals have been moved to Dubai Sa­fari.

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