The Al Ain Zoo is the premier zoo of the Arabian Peninsula, and possibly the best in the entire Middle East. An ecological highlight of the United Arab Emirates, this zoo features animals from the throughout Arabia, some of which are on the brink of extinction and can’t be seen anywhere else. The star attraction is the White Lion, possibly the rarest big cat in the world.
During the oil boom of the post-war years, the United Arab Emirates began to spend much of its new found wealth transforming the region into a cultural oasis. One of the first major projects was the founding of a major zoo in 1969, one of the first and largest zoos opened in the Middle East. Originally featuring local animals, it has since expanded into a major facility. Expansions are ongoing, and the zoo is working to become the world’s foremost desert species wildlife facility.
Al Ain is home to nearly two hundred species of four thousand animals. It began with a population of local animals found throughout Arabia, including Arabian Antelope, Oryz and Gazelle. One of its original exhibits, the white lions, remains the most popular species in the zoo. Later expansions saw the addition of many animals, mostly from throughout Africa, but a few from the Far East. The zoo is currently working on the creation of a full-fledged Africa Safari.
The Al Ain Zoo is located on the south side of the city of Al Ain, approximately eighty miles south of Dubai. It is open year round except on major holidays, notably during the month of Ramadan. Hours vary throughout the year. The cost of admission is AED20.00. Web: www.alainzoo.com (official website).