Dubai: Thousands of residents on Wednesday thronged the Dubai Safari Park hoping to catch a glimpse of the animals, birds and reptiles in the newly opened wildlife centre for free.
Residents rushed to take advantage of the limited period offer of free entry to the park housing over 2,500 animals of about 250 species.
As reported by Gulf News, the 119-hectare wildlife park will admit visitors for free for two weeks before its official grand opening expected in January. After the official opening, standard ticket rates ranging from Dh20 to Dh30 for children and Dh50 to Dh85 for adults will be applicable.
Hussain Nasser Lootah, director-general of Dubai Municipality, announced this after the soft opening of the Dh1-billion project on Tuesday.
Hundreds of people who turned up assuming the park officially opened to the visitors on Tuesday had been allowed to enter for free.
The news about the free entry for two weeks spread like wildfire and thousands decided to make use of the offer on the first day itself.
The massive traffic at the entrance of the park in Al Warqa’a 5 stretched a few kilometres to the main road while security guards and park staff struggled to manage the rush at the facility in the afternoon.
The number of visitors who poured in to the facility seemed to be over its capacity of 10,000 on the first day after its soft launch, Tim Husband, technical director of Dubai Safari, confirmed to Gulf News.
“It is a bit of a mad rush going on. The traffic jam is huge. It is from the main road itself,” Husband said on Wednesday afternoon.
He said the safari is built to comfortably hold 10,000 visitors per day. “It seems to be way above that today. But customers are leaving happy. That is the main thing.”
He said the staff members were coping with the rush albeit being short in number. “We are a little undermanned now. We don’t have all the people in yet. We have got the staff interviewed and we are waiting for their security checks and approvals [for recruitment]. But still we are coping.”
He feared a bigger rush during the upcoming weekend. “It is going to be crazy in the weekend. But we will manage. We have got procedures in place to manage [such situations].”
Open till 5pm
Asked if any restrictions will be placed to control the crowd, he said the park will admit visitors during the two weeks only till 5pm.
Otherwise, Dubai Safari is a 365-day facility that will open the Safari Village hosting the open safari drive from 9am to 6pm and the rest of the villages [Arabian, African and Asian] that house zoo enclosures from 9am to 9pm throughout the year.
Tickets to the one-hour safari drive will be issued only till 4pm on a regular day.
Husband urged residents to visit Dubai Safari in the morning hours to avoid the rush in the afternoon hours when most people head there after school and office.
“In the morning, animals are fresh and there are less people in the park,” he pointed out.
Food and feed
All animals roaming in open areas will be taken to their holding areas after sunset, he said.
“They are trained and conditioned to come back to their holding areas. When the keepers call or ring the bells, they know it is time for food and get back to their enclosures.”
He urged visitors not to feed anything to the animals except in the giraffe feeding area where they can be fed with grass.
“People can bring in their food and picnic here. But no barbecuing or cooking is allowed.”
The restaurants in the facility are not open yet. But there are food trucks stationed in different villages.