Dubai (and really the entirety of UAE) is more than just a small handful of things. I have learned so much about travel just by living in the United Arab Emirates. Some of the coolest things are smaller and off the well worn path. One of those things that may not be as widely publicized is Arabias Wildlife Center in Sharjah.
I first heard about this place from a friend who was going there with her children and had given an open invitation to all friends to meet there. I wasn’t able to go that time but I have been there a couple times since. It is a good spot to take children but also enjoyable for adults, a winner in my book.
Open Hours: Sat-Mon+Wed: 09:00 – 17:30, Thursdays: 11:00 – 17:30, Fridays: 14:00 – 17:30, Closed on Tuesday
The Wildlife Center is located out a ways from the city in the desert, you’ll get to see plenty of sand dunes and a few huge villa compounds in some suburbs. At the gate you pay your entrance fee which is about aed15 for adults and young children are free. There are some buildings on the right and left side of the road, I suggest going to the one on the end right first. This one is where your trip will begin. You get your tickets stamped at the desk then start walking through the “museum”(hold onto them, you’ll need them again later). There are lots of endangered animals here, and sometimes “extinct” animals or ones in danger of being so.
There is a nocturnal area, an indoor aviary, lots of snakes, lizards, fish, frogs, and mammals (bats!). Each enclosure or housing for the animals has a plaque that gives information on where it can be found, some details about it, and it’s status (whether it is safe and common or endangered).
This is all indoors and it’s easy to keep an eye on kids. Ours love to run around and look at all the animals, be ready for lots of “mommy, mommy, look at this snake!”, “Wow! Wow! Wow!”, “come look at this!”.
The cafeteria is about 3/4 of the way through this building and you can get some snacks and watch more animals outside the windows and glass doors. There are flamingos, some kind of goat(?) and some ostrich out there. They occasionally come up the the doors and if you happen to be around during feeding time the animals all gather closer to the building and you can get some neat photos. On the last stretch there are hyenas, baboons, cheetahs, and other neat animals behind large windows. It is cool to be so close to these beautiful creatures.
When you are done in this area you get in your car and head to the children’s petting zoo which will be on your left (the first building you would have passed when entering). You show your tickets again before going out to the animals. Here there are camels, cows, goats, sheep, horses, and other animals that you can meet up close, pet, and feed hay! This is our kids favorite spot, we could probably spend all day here and they would still cry when we leave. (Note: Make sure you wash your hands at the outdoor sink before you leave!)
There is a botanical center on the opposite side of the road, and I cannot really comment on this one because by the time we finish with the other stuff our kids are worn out and we don’t have the desire to go look at plants. But if you do have time it might be a good thing to take a look.
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