Published on : Monday, October 24, 2016
Dubai Safari Park will officially open early next year, allowing the public to enjoy a venue that has been more than a decade in the making. Final preparations are under way and the park, which is near Dragonmart, has selected its first animals for tests to ensure they are in good health and were not taken from the wild.
Animals on site at the 119-hectare phase one of the park include lions, antelope and elephants, and several other creatures from Australasia.
Phase two of the development involves introducing animals from the Americas. The facility will also be home to rescue animals that cannot be returned to the wild.
Tim Husband, the park’s technical director, said that two of his priorities would be animal welfare and education.
“It will be a jewel in the Dubai crown and it will show the rest of the world that there are people here who care about wildlife,” Mr Husband said. “You won’t be able to see it all in one day.”
The park will have a hotel complex that will be ready by 2020.
“On a bad day, we would expect no fewer than 7,000 people through the gate,” said Mr Husband, adding that the park will foster ties with schools.
The park will replace the current Dubai Zoo. It will host a breeding programme at the conservation centre that has the goal of releasing animals back to the wild each year. Those will include cats like the caracal, the Arabian tahr, a mountain goat and oryx and gazelles.
Dr Sameeh Abu Tarbash, head of the veterinary school at UAE University, said teaming up with the park and its experts could be of great benefit to pupils.
UAE University has links with Al Ain Zoo, and Dr Tarbash said access to more expertise and species can only be beneficial.
The rescue centre will include moon bears from South Korea, which are farmed for medicine and their paws. Paw soup is a delicacy. Many bear farms are being closed for welfare reasons, and Mr Husband has taken on four cubs, which the park plans to raise together.
“If you must have a white tiger in the collection then you must use it to educate about the plight of the tiger and not just use it as a crowd puller,” said Mr Husband.
As an animal lover, he said that while captivity was not ideal, it was often the last resort for some species.
“In my opinion, there should be no more zoos but there’s no wild left for the animals. So many animals are getting poached, forests and oceans are getting ruined. At this park we’re going to keep populations alive,” Mr Husband said.