Abu Dhabi: Fourteen children with special needs were ecstatic after getting the opportunity to watch the capital city's wild animals at a close range.

Even though the Abu Dhabi Wild Life Centre has not officially opened its doors to the public, the lucky children, accompanied by seven teachers were elated after being accorded a special tour around the centre.

The wildlife facility is a privately owned centre that supports the conservation of orphaned and sick animals, some of which include lion cubs, Bengali tigers, spotted jaguars, Arabian leopards, gazelles, baboons, cheetahs, dogs, crocodiles and parrots.

The medical condition of the six young girls and eight boys who visited the centre vary from cerebral palsy, attention deficit disorder to other diverse learning disabilities.

Anjum Jaffer, Head of the Education Department, told Gulf News that the pupils were especially excited to see a white tiger for the first time.

"Most of these children have only read about wild animals and seen their pictures. They had never witnessed a white tiger before. After the visit they talked about the animals for several days," she said. Some of the children visited the Al Ain Zoo two years ago, but the reaction was different. "The fact that the facility was only open for the children made them feel comfortable, unlike at the zoo which is bigger and more crowded," said Jaffer. The wildlife centre's manager Ronel Barcellos was excited to see the youngster's faces light up when they saw the animals.

"We are so happy to have opened our doors for the first time to the school children," she said.