Best places to hang out with animals

From petting zoos and parks to safaris and stables, Explorer finds the best places to meet our four-legged friends.

by Laura Coughlin

Al Ain Zoo
This progressive facility is home to over 4,000 animals; at least 30% of the 180 species in the wildlife park are considered endangered. Its efforts in conservation are strengthened by partnerships with San Diego Zoo (a world leader in conservation and research). Giraffes, zebras and rhinoceroses co-exist in the mixed African exhibit, while regional wildlife, such as the indigenous Arabian oryx and sand gazelle, share a habitat. The new hippo enclosure allows kids and grown-ups to get up close with these incredible creatures and don’t miss feeding time at the Giraffe station!

Atlantis, The Palm
The huge marine environment housed within the opulent Atlantis resort on the Palm Jumeirah is pretty impressive. You don’t need to pay anything to wander along the outside of the aquarium. You can also meet Flipper and the gang at Dolphin Bay with shallow swim or deep dive options depending on just how interactive you’d like your experience to be.     

Mushrif Park
If you haven’t been to Mushrif Park, it is definitely worth the short drive out to Al Khawaneej, just past Mirdif. Apart from the camels, horses and goats that you’ll find in the animals’ enclosure (horse and camel rides are available daily), Mushrif Park attracts an abundance of bird life – take a wander around the 5km bike track for the best hopes of spotting some interesting and beautiful species.  

Al Tamimi Stables
Home to 500 animals including rabbits, young reindeer, calves, lambs and sheep. Al Tamimi also houses over 30 horses, with breeds including Arabian, Andalusians, Napstrappers, Fresians and Shetland Ponies. Children can take part in a variety of activities throughout the day, such as nature trails, pony rides, and visits to the petting farm. When not busy exploring nature, there’s plenty of opportunity to get active with football fields, basketball courts and fencing facilities. The stables is open Saturday to Thursday from 09:00 to 18:00. Entry costs Dhs.35 for adults and Dhs.20 for children.

Posh Paws Animal Sanctuary 
Posh Paws is actually a kennels and cattery located a short drive out of Dubai, but the owners added an animal sanctuary and petting zoo to their premises. It is home to animals that are donated, unwanted or rescued, and children can learn how to care for animals properly through interaction and education. Admission is free, but donations to cover the running costs are requested.  

K9 Friends and Feline Friends
What better way to hang out with animals than to adopt one for your own home? Head along to K9 Friends or Feline Friends to choose a pet from the hundreds that need new homes due to being lost, abandoned or rescued. If you can’t take on a pet of your own, both organisations are always on the lookout for caring and dedicated volunteers.    

Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa
This is surely the most extravagant way to hang out with animals, but a luxury suite at Al Maha comes with plenty of opportunity to get closer to the distinctive Arabian oryx. These gentle deer roam around the resort and are fairly used to humans, so you can walk right past them without them charging off. In addition, all rooms face a desert oasis that is subtly lit up at night, so you have a great view of oryx and other animals strolling up for an evening drink.          

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24 Feb 2013 at 10:45

Good reviews for parents looking for ideas for days out with the kids!

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