Senior official says first stage of $40m safari park project to be completed by end of March
The first phase of work to build a AED150m ($40.8m) safari park in Dubai is set to be completed by the end of March, officials have said.
Dubai Municipality said work on ground levelling, internal roads and parking works will be finished by the end of the first quarter of 2013.
Hussain Nassir Lootah, director general of Dubai municipality, said future stages of development will be announced once the bids are finalised with contractors.
Dubai Safari, which will replace the ailing Dubai Zoo, will be located in Al Warqa 5 on a 400 hectares site and includes a safari park, butterfly park, golf courses, plus entertainment and recreational areas.
Lootah said the safari park aims to establish "the best centre for wildlife in the world, providing a variety of environments appropriate to different animals".
Hundreds of animals, birds and other creatures living in enclosures in the existing Dubai Zoo in Jumeirah will be relocated to the new safari park.
Dubai Zoo has attracted a wave of criticism over the years, with animal lovers and charities complaining about its small cages and poor living conditions.
Lootah said last year that the centre was outdated, and said the new zoo would provide better conditions for the animals.
Last year, Dubai also announced plans to establish a crocodile park in the emirate.
The Dubai Municipality said the crocodile park would be set up "in the near future", adding that it was studying similar parks in France, Tunisia and Belgium.