Al Ain Zoo: Your Ultimate Guide [with Real Photos, Review and Tips]

Al Ain Zoo

The vast and tranquil oasis that is Al Ain Zoo, the biggest zoo in the Middle East, has an incredibly peaceful atmosphere.

What unique features of a trip to the Al Ain Zoo set it apart?

  • Seize the chance to offer food to birds, giraffes, lions, and lemurs by hand to get a special up-close experience with these amazing animals.
  • Take in breathtaking views of animals that are in danger of going extinct and learn fascinating facts about them via informative talks or guided tours.
  • Savor the unique chance of dining with lions and giraffes after enjoying a spectacular horse, pony, or camel ride.
  • For the adventurous at heart, partake in an exhilarating safari tour or experience the thrill of extreme mountain biking.
  • In addition, have a leisurely snack while admiring the gorgeous scenery, and let the kids experience the thrill of jumping on inflatable trampolines or swing rides.

Our guide is packed with helpful advice on how to make the most out of your trip to this beautiful refuge. It covers everything from important information on the zoo’s engaging shows to accessible amenities, ticket options, and other useful ideas for your safari adventure.

Flamingos - Al Ain Zoo

Al Ain Zoo Overview

  • Best time to visit: after 2:00 PM (to see more animals), winter time (December-March)
  • Recommended time: 4-6 hours
  • Best for: families with kids, animal  and nature lovers

History and Facts

Al Ain Zoo began operations in 1968 by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who made it a popular local and international tourist destination. It underwent a total renovation in 2006, making it the biggest zoo in the Middle East of its sort. The zoo’s mission has been to protect species in the United Arab Emirates, maintain high environmental standards, and conserve resources for more than 55 years.

Under the direction of local officials, the zoo, which covers an area of over 400 hectares, is still growing. Seeing animals in their natural environments is a unique experience that appeals to both adults and children.

The conservation of endangered species is a major priority for the Al Ain Zoo, which also offers educational programs on the value of providing safe habitats for these animals. To spread knowledge and aid in conservation efforts, the staff works with academic institutions.

Who Are Inside

More than simply an average tourist destination, Al Ain Zoo is home to a wide variety of species from Africa, Australia, India, and the Middle East, with a large majority of the creatures hailing from the Arabian Peninsula desert.

About thirty percent of the zoo’s more than 4,000 animals, representing 200 species, are listed in the Red Book. This indicates that the zoo’s conservation efforts are in line with those of groups like the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the San Diego Zoo, and Miami’s Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden.

Its several divisions are as follows: Arabian habitat (which houses animals from all across the Arabian region), Bird House, African (which features leopards, cheetahs, gibbons, ostriches, flamingos, emus, and eagles), Asian (which features Bengal tigers, deer, and antelope), and Sahara habitat with endangered species.

Immersion in the peace of nature is possible thanks to the zoo’s natural enclosures, which offer a cozy setting for watching the fascinating behavior of a variety of wildlife. The Al Ain Zoo is an intriguing place to visit because of its amazing collection of animals and the chance to see them in their natural environments.

Learn more about the best zoos in the UAE.

Giant Turtle - AL Ain Zoo

Awards

The 2020 Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Award for Excellence in the Tourism Sector was given to the zoo as a token of appreciation.

Additionally, Altorath International Engineering Consultants & Project Management won the esteemed title of “The Best Entertainment Project of the Year 2022” in recognition of the outstanding work they did on the Al Ain Zoo project.

Moreover, the Sheikh Zayed Center for Desert Studies is housed in a stunning structure at the zoo that has achieved a Platinum level for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the highest rating available.

Interesting Facts

  • Over 13 years, the zoo has welcomed over 10 million visitors.
  • The feline population is notably diverse, with a particular highlight being the presence of a rare and endangered white lion, a species with fewer than 200 animals worldwide.
  • In 2023, Al Ain Zoo celebrated the birth of 575 newborns as a result of successful natural breeding programs designed to preserve and nurture endangered species. Between January and November of 2023, these new arrivals were noted; most of the offspring were born to ungulates housed in the zoo.
  • The zoo also features an expansive aquarium that houses a diverse array of marine species from around the globe and the Al Ain Penguinarium, which encompasses a tank with a total water capacity of 65 m³.

Facilities

  • Toilets
  • Souvenir shops
  • Restaurants and food kiosks with snacks
  • Drinking Fountains
  • Free WI-FI
  • Information Desks
  • Mosque
  • Picnic Area
  • Ahlan Lounge
  • Al Maha VIP Lounge
  • First AID Room
  • ATMs
  • Free train rides
  • Shuttle Service (42 AED per adult, 21 AED per kid)
  • Bicycle Rentals (from 15 AED per 30 min)
  • Kids Play Areas
  • Free wheelchairs
  • Strollers rental (one seat 42 AED, two seats 73.50 AED)

Animals

Birds:

  • Desert Eagle Owl
  • Chilean Flamingo
  • Emu Bird
  • Blue-Necked Ostrich
  • Lesser Flamingo
  • Steppe Eagle
  • Vulturine Guineafowl
  • Greater Flamingo
  • Crested Cockatoo
  • Penguins

Mammals:

  • Barbary Sheep
  • African Wolf
  • Dama Gazelle
  • Western Lowland Gorilla
  • Jaguar
  • Gemsbok
  • Chimpanzee
  • Patas Monkey
  • Rock Hyrax
  • Puma
  • Sand Gazelle
  • Banded Mongoose
  • Caracal
  • Speke’s Gazelle
  • Rhesus Macaque
  • Arabian Leopard
  • Springbok
  • Nubian Ibex
  • Ginger
  • Arabian Sand Cat
  • Sacred Baboon
  • Meerkat
  • Bonnet Macaque
  • Brown Capuchin
  • Vervet Monkey
  • White Tiger
  • Arabian Wolf
  • African White Lion
  • South African Cheetah
  • African Wild Dog
  • White-Handed Gibbon
  • Serval
  • Arabian Tahr
  • Arabian Gazelle
  • Striped Hyena
  • Spotted Hyena
  • Common Hippopotamus
  • Ring-Tailed Lemur
  • Arabian Oryx
  • African Lion
  • Rothschild’s Giraffe
  • Southern White Rhinoceros

Reptiles:

  • Aldabra Giant Tortoise
  • Leptien’s Spiny-tailed Lizard
  • African Spurred Tortoise
  • Red-Eared Terrapin
  • Nile Crocodile
Construction
Please note that some areas are under construction (for example, Penguin Beach), and some animals are coming soon ( Koala Land, Elephants..). Check the official website first before you go.

You have the opportunity to encounter some of the zoo’s most notable residents:

  1. Jambo, Wimbe, M’Zungu, and Mapasa are Western lowland gorillas, the smallest among gorilla subspecies. 

Did you know that a lot of human diseases can also affect gorillas? Indeed, Ebola killed as much as one-third of the wild western lowland gorilla population.

These clever animals have a cognitive level comparable to that of a 3-year-old, with the ability to comprehend over 2,000 different phrases. Additionally, experiments have shown that gorillas, along with other primates, can learn languages taught by humans.

  1. Meet Ginger, the adorable male White-Handed Gibbon. 

Known for walking like humans, these gibbons balance without the use of their arms, despite having four fingers, and are capable of leaping across tree branches, with a jumping range of up to 15 meters.

  1. Uno is a remarkable lemur classified as endangered. 

Lemur - Al Ain Zoo

Ring-tailed lemurs have long been the “stars” of documentaries about the nature of Madagascar, serving as the original “ambassadors” of the island. This species is distinguished by its long tail, featuring a distinct pattern of wide white and black rings, and its use of various forms of communication, including vocalizations, scents, and even striking poses.

  1. Zaafarana is a Rothschild’s giraffe. 

Giraffe - Al Ain Zoo

Did you know that their tongues can extend up to half a meter in length and are so powerful that they can be used to wrap around objects, similar to how humans use their fingers, to draw them to their mouths for feeding?

Check out our blog post about 30+ outdoor activities in Dubai.

Things To Do

Al Ain Safari

Al Ain Safari

You will be accompanied by an informed guide who will share information about the customs of the region, ecology, history of the safari, and excellent animal facts. You can witness animals in their native environment by going on an off-road Land Cruiser or truck excursion, which is a real and exciting experience. You will obtain a greater comprehension of the animal realm with the help of knowledgeable guides and a wide variety of creatures.

During your visit, you may encounter five remarkable animals, such as the African lion and white rhino, and there’s even a chance to feed a giraffe.

The zoo offers two distinct types of Safari excursions:

  1. Sport utility vehicles: These trips accommodate 6 individuals, lasting 60 minutes, providing a VIP experience due to the limited seats and personalized attention.
  2. Big trucks: This 45-minute trip, which has a capacity for 22 people, is not appropriate for kids who are younger than 5 years old.
  • Timings: SUVs – 9:00 AM-5:00 PM, Trucks – 11:00 AM, 2:00 PM, 4:00 PM
  • Ticket Price: SUVs – 1,050 AED  per person, Trucks – 210 AED per person

Safari Lions Feeding

Are you looking for something really amazing and thrilling to get your heart rate up? You only need to look at this amazing sight, which offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

What makes it unique? You’ll find yourself positioned behind secure barriers, armed with a supply of meat and specialized long tongs, feeding the hungry lions. You will be able to take up-close pictures of these magnificent animals as the lords of the animal kingdom fearlessly walk around on top and reach out to lick the bars.

  • Timings: Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays 10:00 AM
  • Ticket Price: 787.50 AED per vehicle (up to 5 persons)  extra

Giraffe Feeding

Giraffe Feeding - AL Ain Zoo

A delightful family of long-necked darlings eagerly anticipates their servings of carrots and salad! The experience of feeding giraffes is particularly captivating for children, who will be enchanted by the sight of their striking blue-violet tongues, which measure an impressive 45 centimeters in length.

  • Timings: 9:00 AM-1:00 PM and 3:00 PM-5:30 PM
  • Ticket Price: 31.5 AED per group of 4 persons extra

Breakfast with Giraffe

To promote a deeper connection with the cherished giraffe family, the zoo offers a unique breakfast experience. Guests can savor pastries like croissants and muffins, along with refreshing beverages and a variety of fruit and vegetable slices. Meanwhile, the giraffes can savor their favorite treats directly from the hands of visitors. This exclusive opportunity promises unique photo opportunities, contented animals and guests, and an all-around enjoyable time!

  • Timings: 9:00 AM
  • Ticket Price: 252 AED per person

Budgie Feeding

Colorful winged avian creatures have the opportunity to partake of seeds from a petite dish or directly from your hands.

  • Timings: 2:00 PM-4:00 PM
  • Ticket Price: 10.5 AED per person

Hippo and Crocodile Exhibit

Additionally, visitors can observe lovers of freshwater bodies within the expansive glass aquariums. Furthermore, a Hippo Talk takes place from 3 PM on Fridays and Saturdays, providing an opportunity to gain intriguing insights about hippos and crocodiles, which are also visible to the guests.

Watching Crocodile Feeding

Feeding Timetable - Al Ain Zoo
Why settle for merely observing the green crocodiles? Witness their impressive jaw action as they consume their delectable meals. The zoo offers feeding sessions in two distinct locations: on Saturdays from 3:30 PM to 4:00 PM in the Bridge Aviary, and on Fridays and Sundays in the Hippo & Crocodile Exhibit, also during the same hours.

Penguin Encounter

By paying an extra charge, you have the opportunity to hand-feed fresh fish to the delightful spectacled penguins. These charming birds, with their amusing leg movements, will eagerly pursue you in anticipation of receiving delicious anchovies or krill. While they are pursuing this goal, you can record the thrilling show as they contend for the coveted fish reward on camera, or you can ask a friend or family member to assist you in capturing this remarkable moment.

  • Timings: 12:00 PM-2:00 PM
  • Ticket Price: 52.50 AED per person extra

Cheetah Run

Cheetah Run - Al Ain Zoo

Recently, during weekends, visitors had the opportunity to witness three exceptional champions, who held records as the fastest animals, showcasing their remarkable running abilities in the amphitheaters. However, at present, this show has been temporarily closed until further notice.

Bird Show (Wings of the Sahara)

Eagles, owls, vultures, and falcons will soar directly above you, with some displaying the impressive span of their wings while others engage in thrilling pursuits of prey, all to the delight of the spectators.

Once the performance is over, visitors can take their own pictures with the birds, which include giving them a special glove to perch on for protection. Every day from 4:45 PM to 5:15 PM, this free presentation is available.

Parrot Show

Discover their numerical prowess, witness their graceful strut, observe as they skillfully toss a small ball into a basket, and marvel at their ability to ascend a rope – the Blue-winged Macaws and Sulfur Crested Cockatoos are truly multi-talented.

However, it is important to note that the official website currently indicates that these demonstrations are temporarily unavailable.

  • Timings: temporarily closed
  • Ticket Price: 10.50 AED per person extra

Lemur Walk

Lemur Walk - Al Ain Zoo

Guests are welcome to stroll through an immersive enclosure alongside the lively lemurs. These agile creatures are eager to accept treats from visitors. The knowledgeable trainer will personally introduce you to a captivating family of lemurs, showcasing a deep understanding of his craft and a palpable passion for animals.

  • Timings: Tuesday to Thursday 10:00 AM-11:00 AM, Friday to Sunday 10:00 AM-11:00 AM, 4:00 PM- 5:00 PM
  • Ticket Price: 31.50 AED per person extra

Camel and Pony Rides

The ride on a horse or pony or the steady sway of a camel transports you into a timeless setting as you set off on an adventure through the verdant surroundings. Admiring the tranquil splendor of the natural world from a distinct viewpoint, a mild wind rustles through the trees.

  • Timings: 9:30 AM-5:30 PM
  • Ticket Price: 15.75 AED per person extra

Train Tour

Train Tour - Al Ain Zoo

Visitors to Al Ain Zoo have the opportunity to partake in a delightful complimentary train excursion around the zoo grounds. The train stations are conveniently situated near the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Center and the Inflatable Playground, offering a convenient and enjoyable means of exploring the zoo.

Bicycle Trail

Bicycle Trail - Al Ain Zoo

Visitors have access to standard bike routes as well as 9 kilometers of challenging mountain trails. At the Education Center, guests can rent small, medium, or large bicycles for leisurely rides along the comfortable bike paths, or they can opt for more adventurous mountain biking experiences by renting bikes from the station located near Azzuro Pizzeria.

  • Timings: Friday to Sunday 3:00 PM-7:00 PM
  • Price: Mountain Bikes – 50 AED per hour; Regular trails – 30 AED per hour (big and medium bicycles), 20 AED per hour (small bicycles), 20 AED per 30 min (big and medium), 15 AED per 30 min (small)

Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre

Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre

Its main goal is to spread knowledge using multimedia, interactive displays, and visual materials created by top professionals and specialists.

The center spans three levels within a stunning building and comprises five engaging galleries: the Sheikh Zayed Hall of Remembrance, History of the Abu Dhabi Desert, Living World of Abu Dhabi, People of the Desert, and Looking to the Future.

Guests can travel through time when they visit the center, as multimedia resources offer insights into the UAE’s history, present, and future.

During the week, guests can read books in the cozy library, take part in artsy bookmark-making classes, learn about recycling waste and future waste management, delve into the history and special features of pearls and deserts, learn about animal welfare initiatives in the area and at the zoo, and discover the heritage of the greyhound (Saluki) dog.

The center also offers five types of tours, including a comprehensive tour catering to those interested in learning more about the zoo’s founder, as well as architectural, historical, and specialized tours for students keen on innovations in management or environmental conservation. Arabic and English are the languages offered for these tours.

  • Timings: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM
  • Ticket Price: free (included in entry ticket) (educational tours from 31.50 AED per student)

Dinner with Lions

Savor a gourmet meal while surrounded by the tranquility of Al Ain Safari’s desert landscape and the Arabian sky. You will be lavishly catered to from beginning to end by your specialized Safari Guide, who will greet you with a warm Emirati welcome. A sunset safari tour of Al Ain Safari is included in this special event, which ends with an amazing food adventure on the outskirts of the Lion area.

Please note that this offering is designed for groups of 4 to 12 individuals aged 12 and above. However, at present, this unique experience is not available.

  • Timings: before sunset (3-4 hours) – temporarily closed
  • Ticket Price: 840 AED per person

Keepers Talk

Take in an interesting lecture program at the zoo on the maintenance and welfare of parrots and other bird species, as well as reptiles, crocodiles, and hippos. Learn from informed specialists about the particular care needed for such unique fauna. This engrossing talk presents a singular chance to discover the conservation and welfare programs devoted to these wonderful creatures.

  • Timings: Bird talks – 11:30 AM-12:30 AM, 3:45 PM-4:15 PM; Parrot Talks – Friday to Sunday 1:00 PM; Reptile Talks – 10:30 AM-11:00 AM, 2:30 PM-3:00 PM; Hippo Talks – Friday to Sunday 3:00 PM
  • Ticket Price: free

Play Area for Kids

Families will find a lively children’s playground with inflatable trampolines, slides, jumping pads, and entertaining water activities right next to the picnic area.

A stone’s throw away lies the Children’s Petting Zoo, crafted to emulate a classic village farm. Here, families can delight in camel rides and picnics in the dedicated space, while also engaging with and feeding a diverse array of animals including sheep, goats, camels, llamas, chickens, and ducks. This carefully curated outdoor educational initiative aims to cultivate in children a profound respect for biodiversity and the beauty of garden plants.

Dining

Dining - Al Ain Zoo

Feeling weary and in need of a food boost? Inside the zoo, you’ll find a specially designated picnic spot with verdant lawns for relaxation and four handy snack and beverage kiosks. Additionally, there are two indoor restaurants to choose from.

Timings

Daily hours for the zoo are 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, with ticket sales ending at 5:00 PM.

Ticket Price

The ticket price is AED 30 per adult and AED 10 per kid (3-12 y.o).

Kids under 3 y.o. are free of charge.

*The entry fee doesn’t include other experiences like Safari Tours, Breakfast with Giraffe, Budgie feeding, Penguin Encounter, Lemur Walk and so on.

GetYourGuide
Dubai: Al Ain Garden City with Conservation Zoo from AED 400 Cancel up for free before 24 hours Check availability
Platinumlist
Al Ain Zoo Tickets from AED 31 Not refundable Check availability
RaynaTours
Al Ain Zoo – General Admission Tickets from AED 28.35 Not refundable Check availability
Al Ain Zoo – Safari Truck from AED 210 Not refundable Check availability
Al Ain Zoo – Safari SUV up to 6 pax from AED 1050 Not refundable Check availability
Viator
Skip the Line: Al Ain Zoo & Entry Ticket to Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort from AED 33 Cancel up for free before 24 hours Check availability
Klook
Al Ain Zoo Entry Ticket from AED 32 Not refundable Check availability

Al Ain Zoo Map

Al Ain Zoo Map

Location

Visit and interact with the fascinating array of animals on the Nahyan The First St – Shiab Al Ashkhar in Abu Dhabi.

How To Reach

Discover the various transportation options available for traveling to Al Ain Zoo from either Abu Dhabi or Dubai:

  • By bus: The most convenient way to access Al Ain is by utilizing the bus or minibus services from either Abu Dhabi (140 km) or Dubai (100 km). Buses depart hourly from Abu Dhabi bus station (route x90) and arrive at the Al-Ain bus station, with the journey taking approximately 2 hours. Traveling from Dubai requires a similar level of time and effort, with bus options such as E201 to reach Al Ain. For those already situated in Al-Ain and planning a visit to the zoo, bus options include 904, 914, 905, 916.

Bus Station - Al Ain Zoo

  • By taxi: When it comes to getting from Dubai, popular taxi choices include Dubai Taxi and Uber, as well as the convenience of booking a car through the RTA smartphone app. In Abu Dhabi, many travelers rely on National Taxi for their transportation needs.
  • By car: For driving to Al Ain Zoo, this is the best option. If driving yourself, you will have to go toward the city of Al Ain, which is around a one to two-hour drive from Abu Dhabi or Dubai, if you decide to visit the zoo. Visitors can park for free in plenty of spots.

Free Parking - Al Ain Zoo

Reviews

Following are the firsthand pros and cons of experiencing Al Ain Zoo as shared by recent guests:

Pros:

  • Spacious and well-maintained enclosures.
  • Abundance of attractions and captivating feeding shows.
  • Convenient access to complimentary parking facilities.
  • Opportunity to see animals up close.
  • Plenty of shaded areas.

Cons:

  • Potential for extreme heat.
  • Relatively high costs associated with dining choices and shuttle services.
  • Long waiting time at dining facilities.
  • Long wait times for shuttle buses, with delays of up to 30 minutes for each one.
  • Some animals could sleep during your visit.
  • Some animals are missing and some areas are closed due to construction.

Tips

  • Consider planning your trip to the zoo for after 2:00 PM to increase the chances of spotting a wider variety of animals, as they tend to be more active outside in the evening.
  • It’s essential to dress in comfortable clothes and shoes, and wearing a hat is strongly recommended.
  • Timing is key; the period from September to March is ideal due to the milder weather, whereas the summer heat can make outdoor enjoyment challenging.
  • To save money and hassle, it’s best to buy tickets online rather than at the counter, as credit card purchases may incur extra fees.
  • To make the most of your visit, it’s highly advisable to have a zoo map handy on your phone or in printed form to avoid getting lost.
  • Enhance your zoo experience by availing of the Ahlan Special Service, which includes a guided tour in a luxurious golf cart with some VIP options. This premium service is available for 500 AED for 5 adults and 2 kids.
  • Take a stroller with you if going with kids.
  • Take sunscreen, plenty of water, and some snacks to make your walk comfortable.
  • Take changing clothes for kids as there is a splash area in Children Discovery.
  • Use the free train service to get around the zoo.
Al Ain Zoo Rules
Al Ain Zoo Rules

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About The Author

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I am Anastasia, the author of this blog and a passionate and experienced traveler who resides in the UAE.

I have visited every Emirate, every popular sight, and every hidden gem.

I m here to help you make your trip to the UAE unforgettable.

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