A day trip to the oldest and largest zoo in the UAE

We spent our Christmas extended weekend taking a day trip to Al Ain. We have already been to this small but beautiful city in the UAE when we visited the Jebel Hafeet mountains. That time, we didn't stop by the oldest and largest zoo, Al Ain Zoo, but we always intended to go back. The Al Ain Zoo was set up in 1968, and is involved in the conservation and breeding of many endangered animals, such as the Arabian Oryx pictured below.

A day trip to the oldest and largest zoo in the UAE, Al Ain Zoo

The enclosures in this zoo are huge, and that's exactly how I think zoos should be. There are a few cages where necessary, but many are open enclosures, and some are glass walled.

The zoo is huge - all 900 acres of it, so a stroller for kids is a must, and they can also be rented. We didn't take ours, but bought tickets for the Zoo shuttle, which is  a golf cart carrying you through the zoo via four stops. This is an excellent option for families (and costs AED 30 per adult). They also have a free train which rides around the park, but has only one stop. For a more luxurious ride, there's an Ahlan service, which has some impressive looking vehicles!

Al Ain Zoo entry and rides

The first exhibit on entry is the Big Cat House where we got to see lions pretty close, and white tigers. The African Exhibit is right next to it, and we saw some chimpanzees walking the ropes there!

I like how the landscaping in this area has been done as if you are in the African Savannah!

The ostrich we saw didn't oblige us by standing. We also saw leopards and hyenas.

Al Ain Zoo African exhibit

Little Dude was pretty excited about visiting 'the jungle' (he insists on calling it that), and really looking forward to feeding the giraffes. The giraffe enclosure is the largest, but we got lucky in attracting one giraffe towards our carrots (bought for AED 30 at the feeding counter). When it actually came to feeding it, Little Dude shied away, probably scared by its long tongue!

I spotted a rhino far away in this enclosure, but not any zebras, though the zoo supposedly has them. We also didn't see a hippo as we had read about on their website.

Al Ain Zoo giraffe feeding

Just next to the reptile area, we saw giant tortoises, which were quite a few. The alligator enclosure was really nice because you can see them from above, and also from a tunnel below, which gives you an underwater view. The alligator we saw was pretty close to the glass wall there!

Al Ain Zoo

There's also a Nocturnal House at the zoo, but it was so dimly lit, we could hardly see the creatures. That's how they like it, I guess!

Next, we moved on to an open area where we settled for lunch. There are lots of restaurants and cafes in the zoo. The best thing about Al Ain Zoo is that it's so large and open, and there's a green area for people to relax in.

There's also a well-maintained playground for children that Little Dude spent some time in despite having walked so much!

Al Ain Zoo park

Our last stop was the Children's Zoo, where farm animals like sheep, turkeys, ducks, goats and camels are found. They also have a large cage where you can feed budgies. Before entering this part, we crossed a toy shop where Little Dude loved the stuffed zebra and tiger!

Al Ain Zoo - Children's Zoo

It was a long day, and certainly fun! If you're in Dubai, I would recommend visiting Al Ain Zoo with your family. They also have an expansion project for 2015, so I hope there's more interesting stuff to go back for.

Compared to the Emirates Park & Zoo we went to in Abu Dhabi, this one is much more spacious - but both are great for a family day out.

It takes between 1.5 to 2 hours by car from Dubai to reach Al Ain Zoo. There are road signs that are easy to follow. Al Ain Zoo also hosts special events, check out their website for details.

The best time to visit it is during the winter months, because even in December, it was quite sunny!

Right next to the entrance is the Flamingo pond, where we some of these lovely birds before we left.

Al Ain Zoo flamingoes

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Kristi - Finding Ninee said...

What an amazing trip!!! I LOVE LOVE stuff like this and thank you for sharing.

Lexis said...

that Zoo looks amazing! I love zoos that have large enclosures rather than cages.

Helen Rowlands said...

Wow! What an amazing day out!

Coombe Mill (Fiona) said...

900 acres is huge! We have 30 acres on the farm here and I think that's quite big! Lovely to see the wild animals living how they should with plenty of space. A
great day out. Popping by from Magic Moments

Jaime Oliver said...

What a really super day out! .. i love that the giraffe enclosure has the lower bits of fencing so you can get so close to them and they can stick their heads out!

It looks like a really fantastic place to visit

Thanks for linking up with #MagicMoments

fashion-mommy said...

That looks like a beautiful zoo, although a little too close to the alligator for me!


Louisa said...

Wow. It looks amazing. I am impressed with the thought that has been put into creating such a sympathetic environment for the animals #magicmoments

Redpeffer said...

Look at all that wonderful sunshine! It's a massive place and brilliant that they have so much to ensure suitable environments for the animals too.

Merlinda Little said...

Its so big! Pram is really needed when you are walking to a place this big. You are right that space is vital for animals and space is what they have in this zoo =) #magicmoments

amy cooper said...

wow that is big nice to see the animals having space to roam great pictures sounds like a brilliant day out! x

Tarana said...

It was really huge, so a lot of walking for us!

Tarana said...

Thanks, Jamie. The giraffe enclosure was the best!

Tarana said...

Yes, pretty close, but it wasn't a big alligator really!

Tarana said...

They have done a good job of caring for the animals.

Tarana said...

Yes, it was a very sunny day! The animal enclosures were all very well made.

Tarana said...

True, big spaces make the best zoos!

Tarana said...

It was, thanks!

Tas D said...

It looks like you had a brilliant time on your road trip. Zoos are Z's favourite!

Louise Fairweather said...

Looks lovely. We are off to Dubai soon so just off to read your 10 things to do with kids post x

Tarana said...

Our little guy loves it too!

Tarana said...

Oh, how exciting! Do let me know if you need help with anything :)

Carolynne @ Mummy Endeavours said...

Looks fab, almost like you're on safari! I'm always a little scared wherever the lions and tigers are at zoo's even though i know they can't get to me! #whatsthestory

Tarana said...

Yes, it was almost like a safari!

Sara (@mumturnedmom) said...

Looks fabulous. How wonderful to be able to fee the giraffes!

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