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Nevin Al Sukari - Abu Dhabi - The zoo has recently added two cheetah cubs to its prized collection. Kamal Kassim / Gulf Today
Al Ain Zoo has announced a series of new projects as part of its mission to provide a unique experience for its visitors, conserve nature, and to support tourism and investment in the emirate of Abu Dhabi at local and global levels.
Ghanim Mubarak Al Hajeri, Director General of Al Ain Zoo, unveiled the projects during a media briefing on Thursday. The Zoo’s development plans include 12 mega-projects including Elephant Safari, Elephant Exhibit, Gorilla Sanctuary, Sand Cat Conservation Centre, Reptile Park, Koala Land, Chimpanzee Forest, Al Ain Nature Reserve, Sand Cat Breeding Centre, Rescue Centre, Event Pavilion, and the Penguin Beach.
He said, “The 23.77 hectare Elephant Safari project includes an Elephant Safari, the African Village, elephant back of house, open and safe wandering areas, African-themed rest areas where visitors can enjoy watching the activities within the Safari from a watchtower, and the Lion Exhibition which is connected to the current Al Ain Safari.”
Al Ain Zoo is establishing the Elephant Exhibition on an area of 6,200 square meters near the old Hippo Exhibition and African habitat. The exhibition includes accommodation and care facilities for the elephants, a free roaming area, and an isolation area. The exhibition offers visitors a unique opportunity to get up close with African elephants and interact with them. The visitors will also learn more about these huge animals by listening to their stories from the Zoo’s animal carers.
Rescue Centre is one of the most important projects that aims to provide shelter for dangerous wild animals of various species and a range of sizes, as well as animals seized as illegal pets from homes, rehabilitating them according to their nature. The Centre currently hosts 200 animals of different species, ranging from predators to large primates. The project provides 24-hour animal care services under the supervision of a team of experts. The zoo has recently got two cubs, aged about seven months, seized from wildlife traffickers.
Al Ain Nature Reserve is another highlight. Covering an area of 13,823 square metres, this project offers a model of the wildlife from the city of Al Ain and its environs, as it hosts a variety of local animals and plants. The Reserve comprises areas for overnight stays and camping in a natural setting, restaurants and cafes, and rainwater storage tanks, as well as information and reservation offices.
The project also offers a wide range of activities and tours where visitors can enjoy various experiences on an astonishing adventure amid natural wildlife, featuring climbing rocks, bird-watching experiences, and observing activity in our zoological enclosures and lakes of water.
“Another major project is the Sand Cat Conservation Centre, which aims to provide breeding programmes for sand cats and other local species, as well as research programmes to protect and preserve them. It also aims to highlight the Zoo’s prominent role in conserving this endangered animal. The 1,292-square meter Centre includes interactive areas for visitors, walkways, and 3 outdoor and indoor exhibitions where Fennec foxes, jerboas, scorpions and snakes are exhibited along with the sand cats,” said Al Hajeri.
He pointed out that the Sand Cat Breeding Centre is the world’s first dedicated project for the conservation of the Arabian sand cat. It is home to the largest number of Arabian sand cats in the world and contributes to increasing their numbers and enhancing their genes at a local and global level.
The Centre is equipped with an advanced temperature and humidity control system due to the Arabian sand cats’ high disposition for respiratory conditions.
Penguin Beach Located near the Bird world exhibit, the ‘beach’ is home to 12 individual Humboldt penguins and is the first outdoor penguin exhibition in the Middle East to allow visitors to directly interact with these flightless aquatic birds as they swim and play in their pool.
Among other important projects are the 11,500-square meter Reptile Park, the Gorilla Sanctuary and Chimpanzee Forest.
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