Pride of place. A group of lionesses in the Emirates Park Zoo in Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/XPRESS

ABU DHABI: Emirates Park Zoo, the UAE’s first private zoo, is set to double in size with the addition of more animals under a current expansion plan.

Speaking to XPRESS, Dr. Waleed Sha’aban, zoo operations manager, said the expansion plans will be conducted in two phases.

“We will have 40 hectares to house new amphibians, camelid and nocturnal animals in an environment that replicates their natural habitat,” said Sha’aban.

“We are also planning to establish a breeding programme for endangered animals once the first phase of the expansion is completed in the next three to four months,” he said.

The zoo’s fund collection campagin got a major boost when it received its first donation of Dh600,000 from the Zone Parking Solutions, an innovative parking solutions company based in Abu Dhabi, last week.

Launched in 2008 as the first private zoo in the UAE, Emirates Park Zoo is spread across 22 hectares in Al Bahiya, a 20-minute drive from Abu Dhabi mainland. The facility is home to more than 1,800 animals belonging to 250 species. With daily interactive sessions, educational tours, shows and feeding programmes, the zoo is a popular family destination.

‘Meet and greet’ sessions with the two Indian elephants, ‘Catch a Kiss with Sonja the Sea Lion’, feeding the monkeys are among the big draws for children.

New fun show

Some of the newly introduced educational fun shows include magic acts, parrot shows and African drumming.

Sha’aban said one of the main aims of the zoo is to involve children and give them the opportunity to appreciate and value the natural world.

“We will launch new educational programmes that are in line with the Abu Dhabi Education Council system. We want the next generation to understand the importance of animal life conservation and get involved in the task.”

The zoo has a one of a kind lodging facility – the Emirates Park Resort – where you can wake up to the wonderful sights and sounds of nature.

With 27 chalets overlooking the giraffe park and 54 brand new rooms overlooking the swimming pool, you can relax and enjoy family time, dine in the traditional Arabic Al Dar Garden Restaurant or take an early morning stroll to watch the animals.