UAE is not just about the futuristic Dubai and oil-rich Abu Dhabi — it has a staggering collection of flora and fauna as well. If you’re planning a trip to Dubai, there are a few things you should know before your Dubai visit. And we aren’t talking about the camels sauntering over the miles of the golden sand. Besides vast deserts, there are giant aquariums, epic conservation reserves, and petting zoos, a great way to have fun with kids.
So, get ready to learn about the magnificent wildlife and the best animal attractions in the UAE that are ideal for your family-friendly getaways:
- Dubai Dolphinarium
Sprawling over 5,000 sq meters, Dubai Dolphinarium is a once-in-a-lifetime tour where the 6 famous bottlenose dolphins and a healthy population of Fur Seals perform live shows. In the 45-minute extravaganza, the friendly sea creatures dance, juggle, play, sing, jump through hoops and create unique art. It is spellbinding to watch them perform incredible stunts. Then, check out another stellar performance at the first & only show featuring exotic birds in the Middle East. Other attractions feature a mirror maze, photo booths, souvenir shops, and restaurants.
- Al-Ain Zoo
Founded in 1968 and stretched in a whopping 400-hectare area, Al-Ain Zoo is located on the foothill of Jebel Hafeet. It is a wide-ranging zoo that keeps and cares for the animals in enclosures imitating their natural habitats. Out of the 4,000 animals that you will stumble upon, 130 belong to endangered species. African lion, Bengal tiger, chimpanzee, oryx, gazelles, puma, saltwater crocodile are few inhabitants. Make the most of your time at parrot shows, penguin encounters, hunting shows of hawks, hippo and crocodile exhibits.
- Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
Nestled in the Dubai Mall, Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo is home to fascinating marine experiences. This colossal structure spans over 2 floors featuring one of the world’s largest suspended aquarium tanks, a 48-m walk-through tunnel, and 33,000 aquatic animals. There are colorful 140 species that include 300 sharks and rays. For an intimate encounter, you can feed the sharks, take a glass-bottom boat ride, do snorkeling, and indulge in scuba diving. On Level 2, you will come across the zoo, which has three ecological zones and the residents like Piranha, Lionfish, Giant Spider Crabs, Seahorses, Garden Eels, Archerfish, and more.
- Dubai Safari Park
A 119-hectare sanctuary, home to 3,000 animals from 250 species, operated by solar energy, and segregated into geographical ‘villages’ — Dubai Safari Park is one of the top 10 zoos in the world. Take the adventurous safari ride, where you can have hair-raising encounters with 78 species of mammals, inclusive of 10 different carnivores and 17 primates, 50 types of reptiles, and 111 kinds of birds. From dense forests to pristine ponds, step in to see the magical world and walk on the wild side. The park is also rich in a spectrum of exciting activities, such as the latest ‘behind the scenes experience, feeding giraffes, and a dedicated Kids Farm for little ones to explore more.
- Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
A few minutes’ drive away from the metropolitan Dubai, Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is a wetland reserve that attracts migratory birds. It nurtures the reptiles, crustaceans, mammals, and fish, but what become the treat for the eyes are the pink-beaked flamingos that arrive in winter. Some of the popular names amongst the feathered flocks are great egrets, reef herons, osprey, sandpipers, cormorants, black-winged stilts, Eurasian spoonbill. It is a well-maintained reserve that sustains the ecology by growing flora like mangroves.
- Sharjah Aquarium
Placed in Al Khan, Sharjah Aquarium is one of the largest educational animal attractions in the UAE. Unrolled in an area of 6,500 m², the center embraces 20 aquariums on two floors. Since 2008, it has taken the social responsibility of raising awareness amongst the visitors about the underwater ecosystem, the importance of marine life, and how to preserve them. To instill the values, it has gone an extra mile by opening the turtle rehabilitation program, where they look after the injured/ ill turtles before leaving them back into the sea.
- The Green Planet
Dubai has got a tropical rainforest within a glass dome, and it is worth every dirham spent. With four levels of the forest (The Canopy; The Mid Story; The Forest Floor and the Flooded Rainforest) and diverse 3,000 species of exotic flora and fauna, the bio-dome works as a real ecosystem. The Green Planet aims to enlighten the guests about the significance of saving the rainforest and its role in prospering the future of the planet. Catch a breathtaking sight where the animals and birds are freely roaming across the backdrop of waterfalls running behind.
- Dubai Butterfly Garden
In 10-customized domes, Dubai Butterfly Garden houses 15,000 butterflies from over 50 categories. It is interesting to know that these domes are climate-controlled which makes it comfortable for the butterflies to live and fly around. Visit the Butterfly Museum that has hand-crafted pieces of art and paintings made by a hysteria of pressed butterflies from around the world. Located next to Dubai Miracle Garden, this butterfly garden also includes Koi Pond, Movie Hall, and various dining options. For an enchanting up-close meetup, sit in the netted gazebos, where the fluttering butterflies would come to you.
- Arabia’s Wildlife Centre
Established in 1999, Arabia’s Wildlife Centre displays an amazing array of indigenous fauna found on the Arabian Peninsula. Let your eyes search the smaller, stout cats of the desert. It also has insects and reptiles houses where you can spot Saw-scaled Vipers, Puff Adders and Arabian Cobra. For a little extra, you can discover the nocturnal houses which show a variety of mammals primarily active at night, such as foxes, porcupines, hedgehogs, mongoose, and rodent species. Billed as an educational center, the overall tour will highlight the need to conserve the environment and safeguard the wildlife from extinction.
Behind the luxurious lifestyle of the UAE, there is social consciousness and commitment that does its best to preserve the gifts of nature. If you are a nature lover or wildlife enthusiast, tick off any of these attractions and you will have a great time.