During its 52 years, the Al Ain Zoo has made great efforts that started with the conservation of the Arabian oryx in 1968.
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent
Among the achievements that the world presents on Endangered Species Day, which falls on May 15, the Al Ain Zoo is celebrating its success in preserving wildlife and its role in presenting the UAE as a global supporter of nature conservation and biological diversity.
During its 52 years, the Al Ain Zoo has made great efforts that started with the conservation of the Arabian oryx in 1968, under the guidance of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first environmental leader in UAE in preserving wildlife.
The zoo has now become a safe home for 4,000 animals, 30 per cent of which are threatened with extinction. Breeding programmes not only increase their numbers but also preserve their genetic origins and diversity.
The zoo’s efforts continue in breeding and caring for rare endangered species with a high risk of extinction, such as dama gazelle Addax, Arabian oryx,, Arabian sand cats, Scimitar-horned oryx and Arabian tahrs. Some of these are close to extinction, and others are permanently extinct from the wild as a result of human practices, such as illegal trade, urban expansion, and poaching. The Zoo also works with partners to carry out research and conserve endangered species in their natural habitat in the wild.
According to the statistics released by Al Ain Zoo for the year 2019, the total number of animal births reached 1,086 including 448 among species threatened with extinction, following the international standards according to best practices for animal management and care.
Al Ain Zoo is the largest in the Middle East, a global centre for research to protect and breed endangered animals, in cooperation with international partnerships and institutions such as the Word Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Species Survival Commission (SSC), the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy - Kenya, the Sahara Conservation Fund, and Marwell Zoo.
The zoo’s efforts extend to many fields, such as education and cultural awareness, through conservation festivals, student camps, university student training, scholarships, and school visits to the zoo, which reaches more than 40,000 annually. Al Ain Zoo has recently adopted the application of artificial intelligence in the identification of animals.
Al Ain Zoo is providing veterinary care to more than 4,000 animals, and it is distributed among 172 species of birds and wild animals.
In a statement, the zoo noted that it had activated "early epidemiological monitoring system" along with business continuity plans in the veterinary department for emergency cases, and began to bolster biosecurity measures as part of current global health developments.
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) has praised the role of Al Ain Zoo in wildlife conservation through an appreciation letter received from Professor Theo Pagel, WAZA President.
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