Thriving Wildlife: 6 Animal Attractions to Visit in Abu Dhabi
Although the United Arab Emirates has built a reputation around luxurious hotels, ultramodern skyscrapers, and massive malls, this is just a glittering façade to the true treasures hidden within the country.
From camels traveling the desert and falcons flying across the warm desert sky to sharks gliding past schools of sea animals and sloths hanging lazily on trees, the UAE is home to a wide variety of wildlife. These creatures – some of which were rescued and transported from the opposite side of the world – have become living proof that the UAE is not just about modernization and luxury.
In fact, hidden within its capital, Abu Dhabi, are six animal attractions that serve as home to many animal species, both native and foreign, as listed below:
Al Wathba Wetland Reserve
Founded by the late Sheikh Zayed in 1998 to conserve flora and fauna in the area, the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve is a protected area in Abu Dhabi that houses many different animals. including over 200 species migratory birds. It has even been lauded as the top breeding area for over 4,000 flamingoes that migrate from September to April.
From desert monitor lizards and spotted eagles to red foxes and Ethiopian hedgehogs, you’ll also find many different species of land-loving animals there. In fact, it is home to more than 230 invertebrates, 10 species of reptiles, and 11 different mammals.
Tourists can witness all these magnificent creatures through bird-hides, a walking trail, and a viewing platform built to keep visitors from disturbing the animals in their habitat.
The Reserve also has a visitor’s center where you can see schedules and plan for future guided walks, school programs, and special events. They also provide a chart on the inhabitants’ active hours and some guidelines on proper behavior and etiquette inside the premises to avoid disturbing the animals.
Dolphin Bay Tour
If you’re planning to see dolphins in their natural environment, then the Dolphin Bay Tour in Abu Dhabi may be a good choice for you. While the tour doesn’t guarantee anything, there is a high probability that dolphins could entertain you when you board this Abu Dhabi charter.
One more thing to look forward to is all the knowledge you’ll get to gain during the tour. The tour guide is a prominent marine biologist in the area, so you’ll surely learn what most people don’t know about the wildlife and local waters of Abu Dhabi.
Of course, you can always choose to go swimming or snorkeling at the Dolphin Bay sandbank. Who knows? You might be able to sneak a peek at a fin, flipper, or nose poking out of the waters nearby.
Arabian Wildlife Park
Located in the Sir Bani Yas Island is another home to various species of animals: the Arabian Wildlife Park. Considered as one of the biggest animal attractions in Abu Dhabi, this 1,400-hectare nature reserve houses 13,000 animals who are free to roam the grounds.
It comprises more than half of Sir Bani Yas Island and is a haven for endangered species, some of which arrived and have grown in population in the past 40 years or so. Take the Arabian Oryx, for example. They came very close to extinction in the 1970s, but they managed to expand their population to nearly 500 after being reintroduced to the Park.
Eastern Mangroves National Park
Abu Dhabi’s Eastern Mangroves National Park is another place where wildlife thrives in the UAE. It is a perfect place for kayaking where you can see a 19-square-kilometer stretch of mangroves that supports an entire ecosystem. There you’ll have a chance to find 60 species of shells, fish, crabs, birds, and even foxes who are either feeding or nesting in the area.
Another well-known animal attraction you can visit in Abu Dhabi is the Al-Ain Zoo. As one of the oldest wildlife areas in the UAE, the zoo – also known as the “Garden City” – holds the conservation of animal species at its core.
Like the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, it was established by the late Sheikh Zayed in 1968 and now houses more than 4,000 animals. There, visitors can choose to go on an animal safari tour to see deer, lions, and many more species in their natural habitat. They can also learn about rhinos, tortoises, cheetahs, and the Arabian Oryx at the Sheikh Zayed Learning Centre.
On special occasions, the Al-Ain Zoo also conducts school outreach programs. This is to spread knowledge on the importance of caring for animals the right way.
Emirates Park Zoo
Another zoo that made the list is the Emirates Park Zoo. This animal attraction in Abu Dhabi opened over 10 years ago and was able to pique the public’s interest with its unique offering: individual sections for each animal group.
Situated in Al Bahia, the Emirates Park Zoo houses 1,400 animals that are divided into the following sections:
- Petting Zoo
- Primate Parade
- Birds Park
- Snake Alley
- Reptile House
- Flamingo Park
- Wildlife Walk
- Giraffe Park
- Camel Farm
- Mammal Cave
- Hippo House
- Equine Enclosure
Aside from sections that offer unique setups for each group of exotic creatures, the zoo also has an indoor marine area comprised of 30 water tanks. Guests are also allowed to feed some of the animals, including zebras, parrots, elephants, giraffes, and parrots during their active hours.
Wild and Free
Although animals in Abu Dhabi reserves and zoos are technically in captivity, these conservation areas work hard to allow them to roam freely within sanctuaries that mimic their natural habitat. Do a good deed for Mother Nature by spreading the knowledge about these awesome animal attractions in Abu Dhabi.
Rasha El Saleh is the Conservation Education and Outreach Coordinator in the education team of Emirates Nature-WWF working on its programme, Connect with Nature. She leads the outreach and youth empowerment aspect in growing the Connect with Nature community within the UAE and providing opportunities for youth to lead in this community, in addition to supporting partnerships with vendors supporting and promoting active aspects of the programme.