The United Arab Emirates is known for its vast desert land, swanky cities, luxurious lifestyle, ancient traditions and culture, and an amazing food scene. However, this Middle Eastern nation is not just about the glamorous attractions that it has to offer. In fact, the UAE continues to do its best to preserve the gifts of nature. Hence, you would find several nature parks here. Here we present to you the 10 best animal attractions that you can visit in the UAE.
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
Located inside the Dubai Mall, the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo is one of the largest suspended water tanks in the world. One portion of the water tank can be viewed from outside. However, if you want to enjoy the aquarium to the fullest, you must buy tickets and visit the place. A walk inside the aquarium tunnel would give you the chance to meet more than 33,000 aquatic animals, including a whole colony of sharks and rays. Moreover, you would get to see otters, piranhas, crocodiles, snakes, water rats, seahorses, giant spider crabs, lionfish, etc. at the underwater zoo. The aquarium also offers interesting experiences like cage diving, shark feeding, otter or penguin encounter, etc. for those interested.
The Dubai Dolphinarium is an animal attraction in Dubai that is quite popular with the children. The highlight of the place is the Dolphin and Seal Show that happens here every day. During the show, you would have a fun time watching the dolphins and seals play games as well as perform tricks and acrobatics. Kids would have a fun time seeing these aquatic animals dance, juggle, sing, jump through hoops, paint and play ball. However, the dolphin and seal show is not the only thing to look forward here. You must also checkout the Exotic Bird Show, where you get to see birds like Amazon parrots, toucans, falcons, macaws, cockatoos, etc. perform some amazing tricks. Apart from this, Mirror Maze, Dolphin Planet, 5D & 7D Cinemas, Trampoline, etc. are some of the other attractions of the place.
Dubai Safari Park
The Dubai Zoo reopened as Dubai Safari Park in October 2020. Spread around an area of 12.8 million square feet, the Dubai Safari Park is located on Al Warqa 5 on the Hatta Road. It is an eco-friendly park that completely runs on solar energy. It is home to more than 250 species of animals and is divided into six zones. Each zone represents the animal and habitat it represents.
You get to see lions, tigers and giraffes at the Safari Village, while Arabian Village with its deserts and mountains is home to the Arabian Oryx and wolf. At the Asian Village, you would get to see the Indian elephant and Komodo dragon, while the African Village houses the white lion and African wild dog. At the Wadi Village, visitors get the chance to relax amidst lush greenery, beautiful ponds and soothing waterfalls. There is also a Kids Farm, where kids get to learn more about animals. There are several interactive, kid friendly activities here, including giraffe feeding, pony riding, watching the birds at the grand aviary, learning about traditional farm animals, etc.
Emirates Park Zoo
Located in Abu Dhabi, the Emirates Park Zoo is known to be one of the best zoos in the Middle East. Opened in 2008, the Emirates Park Zoo has more than 1700 inhabitants. The star attractions of the zoo include the white tiger, Siberian Bear and Asiatic Elephant. The zoo has several zones or areas, including Reptile House, Wildlife Walk, Giraffe Park, Animal Paradise, Primate Parade, Snake Alley, Flamingo Park, etc. The place also has a Petting Zoo. Visitors can also enjoy some fun activities and encounters like animal feeding (you get to feed giraffes, monkeys, hippo, zebra, elephant, ducks and farm animals), interaction sessions, Keeper’s Talk, etc. The Emirates Park Zoo also has a luxurious resort. Families would have a great time staying at the resort with balconies facing the zoo, a cave or the beautiful gardens.
Atlantis Lost Chambers Aquarium
The Lost Chambers Aquarium is a part of one of Dubai's most luxurious hotels, Hotel Atlantis the Palm. The Lost Chambers Aquarium has been designed to replicate the Lost City of Atlantis. This place has 21 aquariums inhabited by more than 65,000 marine creatures. Walking around the aquarium tunnel of the Lost Chambers, you would get to see different types of sea animals like sharks, fish, seahorses, lobsters, albino alligators, etc. The aquarium also offers behind-the-scenes-tour that gives you the chance to know more about the underwater life directly from experts. You also get the chance to enjoy some incredible experiences like Ambassador Lagoon, Ultimate Snorkel, Atlantis Dive Discovery, Predator Dive, Atlantis Dive Explorer, Atlantis Aquatrek, Touch Tank, Interactive Aquatheater Shows and Fish Hospital and Nursery.
Al Ain Zoo
Established in 1968 by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Al Ain Zoo is spread around an area of 400-hectares at the foot of Jebel Hafeet in Abu Dhabi's Al Ain. The Al Ain Zoo is home to a variety of wildlife animals including the African white lion, Barbary sheep, gorilla, chimpanzee, jaguar, cheetah, white rhino, the Arabian leopard, gazelles, etc. It also has a vast variety of birds like eagles, flamingos, desert eagle owl, blue-necked ostrich, cockatoos, emu, etc. Some of the experiences that Al Ain Zoo offer include penguin feeding, Al Ain Mountain bike, Cheetah run, reptile encounter, animal feedings, parrot show, hippo and crocodile exhibit, Budgie feeding, etc. Al Ain Zoo also has the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Center, where you get to learn about the natural environment of UAE through 5 interactive galleries.
Sharjah Desert Park
Opened in 1995, Sharjah Desert Park acted as a conservation center for the endangered flora and fauna of the land. Today, it has become an edutainment center that entertains and educates its visitors. The desert park has a Natural History and Botanical Museum, where you get to learn the natural history of Sharjah and also about the desert environment and the living beings that live in the harsh climate of the desert. Arabia’s Wildlife Center is another important section of the Sharjah Desert Park. Here you will find Reptiles and Insect House, an Aviary, enclosures of large carnivores and primates, and a group of several nocturnal animals. The place also has a Children's Farm, where kids will get the chance to meet, pet and feed domesticated animals and birds.
Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
Located close to the main city of Dubai, Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is a haven for birds at one end of the famous Dubai Creek. This is a wetland reserve where you would find a combination of mangroves, salt flats, intertidal mudflats, lagoons, etc. It is the perfect place to visit for bird lovers, as the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is home to more than 20,000 birds belonging to 67 species. Choose to one of the 3 bird hides and you would get to see a variety of birds like reef herons, black-winged stilts, sandpipers, osprey, grey herons, great egrets, cormorants, etc. However, the star attractions of this wildlife sanctuary are the flamingos that come here in the winter. The herd of pink coloured flamingos is a sight to see, one that you should not miss.
The Green Planet
Imagine a rainforest in the desert land of Dubai! It seems impossible, right? However, with Green Planet, Dubai has created a tropical forest inside a glass dome. The Green Planet is a vertical oasis, where you would find an entire rainforest inside a bio-dome. This manmade rainforest is home to over 3000 species of animals, birds and plants. Here, you can not only check out a range of exotic plants but also get a closer look at different species of birds and animals that are usually found in rainforests. The Green Planet is divided into four levels: the Canopy, the Midstory, the Forest Floor and the Flooded Rainforest. You get to learn about the importance of rainforests at different levels. The Australian Walkabout, Bird Encounter, Sloth Encounter, Reptile Encounter, etc. are some of the things to do here. Some other experiences that you can enjoy here include snorkelling with the piranhas, picnic brunch with sloths, thunderstorm at the Green Planet, camping, etc.
Established in 2008, the Sharjah Aquarium is the largest government educational center in the UAE. The main aim of the museum authority is to educate the guests about life under the water and raise awareness about environmental protection. Covering an area of 6500 square meters, the Sharjah Aquarium is home to more than 100 species of sea animals including seahorses, clownfish, sea rays, reef sharks, etc. You would get to see the marine creatures that are found in lagoons and mangroves as well as those along the coral reeds and rocky shore. The aquarium also has a turtle rehabilitation program, where the injured or ill sea turtles are treated, rehabilitated and released into their natural environment. After your aquarium tour, you can have a cup of coffee and snack at the cafe inside the building.
So you see, the UAE is not a complete concrete jungle. The city has taken great efforts to ensure to stay close to nature. The 10 animal attractions mentioned above are a few examples of the same.