The Desert Park of the Environment and Natural Reserves in Sharjah attracted thousands of visitors during the Eid Al Adha holidays.

The Arabian Peninsula Animals Centre, the Children’s Farm, and Natural History and Botanical Museums saw people crowding in to watch the animals and birds.

According to the most recent statistics released this year, as many as 203,882 people — old and young, men and women, tourists and locals alike — have visited the park from January to June this year.

Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, Chairman of the Environment and Natural Reserves in Sharjah, said the significant rise in the number of visitors is mainly attributed to the diverse workshops and activities the Desert Park organises on a regular basis.

“The easily accessible Desert Park, located 28km off Sharjah city on Al Dhaid road (Interchange-9), comprises several eateries and cafes, apart from the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife.”

The park covers an area of one square kilometre and offers three venues in one with the Sharjah Natural History Museum and Botanical Museum, Arabia’s Wildlife Centre and the Children’s Farm. The Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife is also located in the park and is an impressive research and breeding facility, but one that is not open to the public.

“With over 300,000 visitors a year, this park is definitely one of the most popular and highly recommended attractions in the UAE,” Al Suwaidi said, adding that school and group visits are welcome but advance booking is needed.

Elaborating, Al Suwaidi said not only does the Wildlife Centre house the world’s largest collection of Arabian wildlife but it is also the only zoological park in the Middle East to be completely indoors, making it perfect for a day out, regardless of the weather.

“The Wildlife Centre has been divided into various sections, each dedicated to a group of species including reptiles, invertebrates, birds, nocturnal animals, ungulates and large carnivores.”

In September this year, a female cub was successfully bred at the breeding centre. The cub is genetically important as she is the first female cub that is not from the Omani line.

“The breeding centre is home to 30 Arabian leopards of which 25 were born here,” said Al Suwaidi explained.

Earlier this year, the centre also witnessed the breeding of an Arabian Oryx (a medium-sized antelope with a distinct shoulder hump, long, straight horns, and a tufted tail). “This is added to 26 Nubian Ibex, 10 mountainous deer and 26 sand gazelle,” she said.