Too hot to trot: Zoo animals need to stay cool as much as humans during the hot summer Image Credit: XPRESS/ Ahmed Ramzan

Dubai: Could this be the last summer for the animals at Dubai Zoo? 
If things go as planned, the 1,000 animals will be relocated to a new zoo that is about 80 times bigger than the existing Jumeirah zoo, built in 1967.

The Dh150-million Dubai Wildlife Safari is taking shape in a 120-hectare facility opposite Dragon Mart on Al Aweer road.

It’s expected to open to the public in late 2014. But the animals may have to be shifted earlier.

Speculation is rife that this is their last summer in Jumeirah.

Zoo animals need to stay cool just as much as humans during summer. Without proper hydration, they could become lethargic and dehydrated, and, at times, even suffer heat stroke.

Giant fans have been put up at the cages of the big cats, monkeys and some bird species.

Boa constrictors and some other large reptiles are cooled by window-type air-conditioning units.

To beat the merciless heat, many animals take refuge under the canopy of old trees.

The next summer could be vastly different as their new homes will be temperature controlled and surrounded by dense vegetation.

“This place is rather small for these poor animals today,” said Olu, a tourist from Nigeria. “It’s good to know they’re moving them to a bigger, better place.”

Senior municipality officials said the first phase of Dubai Wildlife Safari’s construction had been completed and the new facility will open as planned by 2014. Excavation work started in September 2012, levelling the ground and paving internal and external roads.

The Dubai Safari will be made up of a zoo, a wildlife safari park, a butterfly park, botanical garden, resort and golf course. It will also have vet and educational facilities.

The main zoo will cover about 29 hectares.

A zoo employee illustrates how the lack of space has hampered its growth.

“We used to captive-breed Nile crocodiles but it was stopped after a while due to lack of space in the existing one,” a staff told XPRESS but asked not to be named.

Plans to relocated the zoo have been shelved a number of times in the past. “I think this time it will happen,” said the zoo staff.

Hussain Nassir Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality, said earlier the infrastructure and work on the water feature package have started. “The schedule is going according to plan and will be completed by the end of next year,” he said.