Monday, June 16, 2008

The Dubai Penitentiary for Animals, er...Zoo

Everybody loves a good zoo, and as Lisa and I are no different we happily planned a trip to visit the Dubai zoo last Wednesday to see the establishment that was established in 1971 an boasted many exotic and unique Arabian animals. Although we knew there was a zoo, almost every major guide book failed to say anything about it and the address itself was hard to find. That's no way to drive tourists to your zoo! This should have been our first clue to turn back while we still had a chance to live nightmare-free. We eventually found it by following our noses. The smell of, um, animals...lead us right to it when we excited the taxi.

I will refrain from sharing my full opinion of this establishment for Matt would rather my full feelings on the issue not be public domain in a monarchy. The conditions are appalling, the animals are sick and weak, there are no 'habitats' only small cages with cement floors and walls, and the animals live in there own filth while drinking dirty water. As one point I turned to Lisa and asked truthfully, "Can animals be depressed?" If so, I now know what their faces would look like. The entire experience was disturbing and heartbreaking, especially the gorilla who just sat in her cage unblinking, staring right through you, as if to say "why"?

This has been my first disappointing experience in Dubai as a "tourist". The theme parks, hotels, restaurants, corporate buildings, are al beautiful. I had assumed that they would one of the 'creme de la creme' animal parks in the world considering the rate of their other developments. I was so wrong. (After a bit of research I found that people have lobbied for change for nearly 20 years, and that the zoo is listed on PETA's watch list)

Timeout Dubai's guide book calls it 'shameful' and dares you to visit 'if your conscience allows'. That pretty much sums it up.

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