Click here to see the ‘wildlife’ photographs of the animals
“Did you see that?! It flew right pass my head! It almost touched me!” cried a visitor in excitement as they observed the different kind of bird species flying around. Some were nesting and somewhere calling out to their kind. These visitors weren’t standing outside in the open. Quite the opposite they were actually in a cage. A big bird-cage. One that looked like it had been made after seeing the bird cage in Jurassic Park 3; albeit not that humongous. This was not in some isolated island capable of breeding extinct species though. It was part of the many exciting attractions in Al Ain Zoo.
Al Ain Zoo, which opened in 1969, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in UAE(United Arab Emirates). Being the home to over 4000 animals, even the almost extinct white lion, it is located in the foothills of the Jebel Hafeet Mountains and stretches over 900 acres. The zoo is set in an African-landscape kind of scenery and even has an African safari ride that takes you around the locations of giraffes, zebras and hippopotamus. Beautiful Flamingos greet you at the entrance where you can also by snacks.
The zoo is around 900 acres which means four hours of walking. It’s best to visit the zoo during the months of December to February so you don’t get exhausted under the blazing heat of the sun.
Most of the animals are exhibited in large areas with habitats that resembles their home. They are not very constricted and have lots of space to move around. Lions, tigers, gorillas, mere cats, turtles, and hyenas can get close to you with only a glass wall or a chest-length brick fence separating you from their environment. If you arrive at feeding time you’ll be lucky enough to see them munching on bones or nuts.
The zoo also has reptile and nocturnal houses that exhibits different kind of other species. Reptile House exhibits various kinds of snakes from rattle snakes to Anaconda to chameleons. They slither and slide or crawl inside the cages with a setting that is familiar to their environment.
The Nocturnal House is, as its name suggests, a house for animals of the night. The minute you step in there you are greeted by owls hooting and the flapping of bats. Nocturnal House is dark like the night in forest. There is very little lighting and if you don’t go near the glass and squint you’ll probably miss the species exhibited inside. It gives you a slight, chilly, haunted feeling like you’re walking through a dark mansion that is probably haunted.
Photographs are also prohibited here as the flashes from your camera can scare or maybe even harm these creatures of the night.
Once you walk out into the daylight again there are plenty activities waiting for you. If you want to get in close with the African giraffes you can feed them during their feeding time. It’s a special section designed for those who wants to see the gentle giants up close.
Tall towers line up in this area. If you climb them to the top you’ll get a view like your standing on a hill in the middle of the African wildlife. You get a 360 degree view of giraffes, zebras, hippos, bulls and rhinoceros making their way across the dry desert sands with a large pond in between.
Plenty of cafeterias and vendors come along your way as you walk. All kinds of refreshments and snacks could be found here.
Your kids tired of walking around too much? There is a picnic area with a long stretch of grass for everyone to rest and recuperate. A train also rides inside the zoo. For a little fun, hop onto the train and enjoy the ride while seeing the animals all around. But the train doesn’t go near the section that hosts the African lion, Bengal tiger, chimpanzee, puma, salt water crocodile, panther, Nile crocodile and leopard.
When you are nearing the end of the zoo you’ll find a penguin house. Home to the adorable flightless birds, you can see them up close in their close to natural habitat with only a glass wall separating you from them. They will swim around and even respond to you if you touch the glass.
Al Ain Zoo is a fun experience and a must visit place. Unlike other zoos 30% of animals exhibited here are under the endangered species so you’ll get to see some very exotic creatures. Get close, learn their habitat and get inspired to protect these helpless creatures.