Dubai diaries: Emirates Park Zoo

Recently, a couple of friends suggested we check out the zoo. My first reaction was skepticism. I hadn’t heard good things about zoos here so I wasn’t sure if the zoo was something I wanted to introduce to my 9 month old. But of course, my FOMO (fear of missing out) kicked in and on Friday we were on our way to Abu Dhabi, to Emirates Park Zoo. Located very close to Yas Island, the zoo is somewhat hidden in between residential homes and a few store compounds. Constructed with minarets and life size ceramic depictions of various animals which seem to be walking the walls surrounding it, the zoo is hard to miss, once you’re close enough of course.

We reached around 12 noon on a Friday and even though most of the parking lot was packed, it wasn’t crowded. Families were eagerly walking to the entrance, and the day was a beautiful 25 degrees. I encourage you to check it out between November to March. We belted little L into her stroller and we were off; eagerly bumping up and down on the cobbled road leading up to the zoo.

The ticket line was negligible and the price quite reasonable, and soon we were inside. The zoo is beautifully constructed, even though it’s small. Artificial grass lines the lanes flanked with cages and enclosures on both sides. One of the first enclosures we stopped upon was the giraffe, deer, wild boar and zebra one. It seemed big enough to accommodate the various animals and we saw them roaming freely, with the boars taking an extended nap. Kids could feed the deer through the metallic grill.

How many giraffes do you see?
How many giraffes do you see?

Right across was an extensive petting zoo ideal for kids old enough to feed the animals and get some face time with them. The goats and sheep were the most interesting! Hanging their heads over the fence, eager for a bite or a pet. I don’t know how much my 9 month old understood, but she was quite fascinated! My nephews, who are 4 plus years of age (friends’ kids) were definitely the right age to interact with the animals.

Petting zoo
Petting zoo


Little L and the camel
Little L and the camel

The most interesting was the big cats enclosure. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Emirates Park Zoo has quite a few of them. Cheetahs, lionesses among others. There were also a few elephants but if you want to get up close to them, you have to wait post 4 pm, because that’s when they say you can feed them. The cages were clean, even though a bit small (but then I feel this way about any zoo), with glass so one can get up close to the animals.

Tiger tiger burning bright
Tiger tiger burning bright


The boys face the tiger
The boys face the tiger (Photo credit HA)

The monkeys and baboons were quite animated and the habitat for reptiles was well maintained and easy to walk through.

Overheard on speakers was drumbeat music, reminiscent of that playing in the back of your mind at an African safari. There were also quite a few areas for possible shows which we missed since we left before the scheduled time of 4 pm. Also available were themed cafes and coffee shops, as well as a play area for kids.

Not a very big place, but this zoo was quite a pleasant surprise and an excellent way to spend a Friday morning or afternoon. I will definitely take little L back once she has a better understanding of what the furry thing was and why it was making her giggle. So if you’re up for a day with camels and monkeys and a black bear, do check out Emirates Park zoo.

(Their website seems to be down but they have an active Facebook page)


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