First look inside the walls of Dh1 billion Dubai Safari

Conservation project prepares to open its doors to the public and present collection of more than 2,500 animals

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A world of wonder will welcome visitors to Dubai Safari early next year as the Dh1 billion project prepares to become one of the top global attractions of its kind.

With a keen eye on education and conservation of endangered species, the park, on Al Awir Road on the outskirts of Dubai, will be home to 5,000 animals within three years.

The first of those animals are getting used to their new surroundings, with many saved from desperate situations around the world or cramped conditions in Dubai Zoo, which is now closed.

Species have been carefully selected from reputable breeding programmes elsewhere, to help Dubai Safari become a market leader in conservation.

It will soon become the first facility in the UAE to offer an in-house zookeeping course, and is already home to more than 2,500 species.

Timothy Husband, technical director of Dubai Safari, said looking at the site now it was “hard to visualise what was here just a few years ago”.

“We’ve been able to attract some of the best staff available, and I’m proud of that. This collection of animals will encourage other zoos and safaris to come to Dubai as they know we have the best ­genetics, and there has been no inbreeding.

“It was a challenge finding the right collection. For example, we would have looked at 100 giraffes before selecting the right ones for Dubai.

“It has been important for us to go around the world to interview these people to get the right people in place.

“We would interview 300 people to find nine. The guides here are different than elsewhere, they will come to visitors and try to educate them and make their visit special.”

He is now an animal observer at the enclosure for Digit and Diana, two gorillas who were rescued from Dubai Zoo. More info and photos

By Nick Webster  thenational.ae

Photo Victor Besa for The National