Dubai is to start work on a new Zoo this year in a bid to replace the existing, outdated facility with a new park of “world class” standards, Dubai Municipality has said.
Plans for the new animal centre are expected to be signed off in the next two months with the help of special consultants, who will decide a suitable site, the required area as well as the location and grouping of animals, the municipality said.
According to the authorities, the zoo will adopt the cage concept over the safari model, which is typically reserved for developed countries and allows animals to roam freely within the development.
The cage concept is more appropriate for Dubai, officials said, given the are constraints of the emirate.
“The cages will be arranged and distributed in accordance with each category and type of animals, birds and other species in a comfortable way and adequate space without affecting the neighbourhoods,” said Hussian Nasser Lootah, director-general of Dubai Municipality.
“A full-fledged team of specialists, veterinarians, animal curators and entire qualified cadres for animal welfare according to the global systems and frame lines will be available.”
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.
Campaigners from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) famously gathered outside the zoo in July 2010 dressed up in monkey masks and prison outfits, protesting against the conditions the animals were being kept in.
The facility, which was established by HH Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum in 1967, now holds more animals than before, some of which are endangered and exotic animals illegally trafficked into Dubai from other countries.
Lootah admitted that the centre was outdated, and said the new zoo would provide better conditions for the animals.
“The current zoo should be improved,” he said. “It is very old and small after the huge development around it and increasing number of animals and visitors.”
He added that the animals would be shifted as soon as the new zoo was ready.