Want to dine with the lions? You can now do so in UAE

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The zoo was opened in 1969 and has seen a major expansion.
The zoo was opened in 1969 and has seen a major expansion.

Al Ain - There are many migratory birds giving company to animals in the safari park.

By Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Mon 28 Aug 2017, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 29 Aug 2017, 1:06 AM

It will be a new height of adventure as the Al Ain Zoo will be soon offering an opportunity to share a meal with lions at the African safari park.
"This is a new project coming up. You can have a lunch or dinner with lions," Hareb Bakheet, the safari guide, told Khaleej Times during a tour of the park on Monday. At 217 hectares, including the new extension projects, it is destined to be one of the world's largest man-made African Safaris.
"There are eight lions. Three cubs were born two weeks back."
Explaining the intriguing date, he said: "We will have five-star food and you will be lions' invitee. You can bring your family and enjoy the best of food with lions for company. It will be a buffet to remember. The lion will obviously be on the other side of the safety area, where it will have its meat," Bakheet said showing the deep enclosure that separates the lion's area but almost on the same surface.
"The lions can never jump this side," Bakheet assured and added a portion is circled with electric fence.
And that isn't all as there is another project in which visitors can feed those lions.
"This one is only for adult visitors. We will have special cage and you can go inside. And then you can feed lions," Bakheet said and noted that all the projects were subject to a few more approvals. "We will soon get the approvals," he said.
The designated area for lions has got a clinic too.
Oryx and rhinos
Meanwhile, there are whole lots of animals than just lions to check during the safari. And except for lions, all the animals at the park move around freely too.
"There are 17 species of animals with the last one being rhinos," Bakheet said. Quite unassumingly, you will find a family of rhinos roaming around. The baby rhino Fire will lead the way, followed by mother Lolita and father Thomas keeping an eye on the proceedings from the back.
"He is really fast and glides swiftly," Bakheet said and noted Fire was born in Al Ain Zoo.
Meanwhile, talking about oryx, he lamented only a limited number of the species are left in the wild.
"There are eastern African oryx and scimitar horned oryx among others. Scimitar is extinct in the wild and only found in such parks. There are many here as we have a breeding programme. They have sharply curved horns. See, there are scratches on bodies of other scimitars as they shake their horns and hit others."
Then there are spiral-horned elands - among the biggest antelopes in the world. They move on as they don't hear any noise, in stark contrast with big-eared kudus - another species of antelope - which are friendly and like the attention. "Kudus can hear anything from very far away with their big ears."
And if you wait patiently, you will be lucky to see the springboks run around.
Then pointing to impalas, Bakheet said: "They are called McDonalds in Africa. Just look at their back, it's like 'M' and that's why the name."
There are also two ostriches - both according to Bakheet are very welcoming and love seeing visitors. Also, there are many migratory birds giving company to animals in the safari park.
Safari booking can be made online or through phone. There is also night safari, which is positioned against the scenic backdrop of Jebel Hafeet and Hajar Mountains.
Big tourism push planned
The zoo was opened in 1969 and has seen a major expansion. "The opening of African safari was phase-I of the project and there are bigger plans in the pipeline. In phase-II, more hotels will be created and the final phase of expansion will be having an Asian safari," Bakheet said.
The park has an African village and will have an Asian village too in future. The park has taken care to maintain many trees and also got a few from Africa for animals to feed on.
There are sprinklers placed in many places to keep the park cool too.

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