Rising from a disused landfill for construction waste spread across at about 120 hectares, Dubai Safari will change not only the landscape of Dubai, but also the perceptions about animal welfare and care in the country.
“This will be one of the big jewels in Dubai’s crown. A lot of animal lovers think that many locals here don’t care or respect animals. By doing something like this, we can actually show how Dubai cares for animals,” Tim Husband, technical director of Dubai Safari, told Gulf News.
He said utmost care will be given to the animals, right from their selection itself. Tests are done to ensure their fitness and experienced trainers and keepers from different parts of the world have been hired to take care of them. A veterinary hospital and research centre with a state-of-the art lab will be part of the project to offer treatment and care for the animals.
Air-conditioned artificial rocks, misting fans and chilled water will be used to keep them cool during summer. A lot of greenery, pools, muddy ponds and other waterbodies will also provide natural habitat for animals.
“We will have a very good stock. There won’t be anything like tricks and rides by animals or taking photos with lions and tigers as in most zoos they usually drug the animals and put them to chains for such things. We don’t do that. No pulling the baby off its mother and no drugging.”
Animals will be kept at their holding areas at night for resting while they will be roaming in the safari during the day.
“All animals here would be the ones raised by their mothers in family groups. The only time they are hand raised is when the mother neglects the baby. It will be a soft hand-raising as in we feed and keep the baby back with its mother,” said Husband.
The lions at the safari, which came from Seoul Grand Zoo, for example, are part of a family.
Husband sees it as a challenge to welcome the lioness at Dubai Zoo, which was captured after it was found prowling on the streets of Al Barsha in last January, to Dubai Safari.
“She is going to be a challenge because she has been declawed. To put her in with another lion is very difficult. When you have got someone with claws and someone without, it is like one has pillows when you have a knife fight. However, he hoped that the expert lion master from Africa will rise to the challenge and help the lioness have a smooth stay at the safari.