UAE zoo to house endangered African wild dog

August 5th, 2008 - 3:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Abu Dhabi, Aug 5 (IANS) A zoo in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has opened a new enclosure that will be dedicated to the seriously endangered African wild dog. The zoo in Al Ain in the emirate of Abu Dhabi will be the first home of the species in the Middle East, the state-run Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

The new enclosure, covering over 1,500 square metres, will be home to seven of the wild dogs - five males and two females - which are currently in quarantine.

“While these critically endangered animals will be cared for and given a dramatic new exhibit to meet their needs, guests will have the opportunity to observe these animals in a natural setting and be a part of something very special,” the report quoted Majid Al Mansouri, managing director of Al Ain Zoo, as saying.

Each dog will have its own den and specially constructed off limit facilities for breeding purposes.

Plans are on to have the group breeding within the next two years and establish a second group.

Once numbering over 500,000 and present in 39 countries, the number of African wild dogs today range between 3,500 and 5,000 in less than 25 countries.

Experts attribute the species, a carnivore, getting endangered to habitat loss and hunting. While it uses very large territories, it has to compete with larger carnivores for its food.

The dogs housed in Al Ain will later be a part of the African Safari experience in the Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort that is being planned and designed.

Visitors will be able to feel and experience African wildlife by viewing these dramatic animals through a series of specially designed glass windows under a shaded walkway.

There will also be facilities that will allow visitors to watch these animals during the summer nights.

“Visitors to Al Ain Zoo will now be able to view one of Africa’s most active and social carnivores in an exhibit that is landscaped to match their natural habitat,” Mark Craig, director of Al Ain Zoo, said.

“These animals are active at night so the best time to view them is early evening during our Summer Night Zoo.”

The city of Al Ain lies on the eastern region of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven emirates that make up the UAE.

It is known as the ‘Garden City of the UAE’ and is a cultural centre. It was among the nominees for this year’s Unesco World Heritage Sites list.

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