Arabia's Wildlife Centre: R&D, Strategy and Wow all Rolled into One!

Yes, another field trip was organised by another group of long-suffering students. Another trip where I turn into a ten year old girl and where I see my students look at the "old" with new eyes.

Last Sunday my Strategy class organised a trip to the Sharjah Zoo (

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 up into various sections, each dedicated to a group of species including reptiles, invertebrates, birds, nocturnal animals, ungulates and large carnivores.

To say it was AWESOME does not begin to describe what I saw - and honestly, I felt like I was in North America it was set up so well inside (ok - they need a gift shop to sell stuffed TOY animals and puzzles and games and t-shirts, and they had a super affordable canteen,  but other than that it was like something back home).

From the outside the Centre doesn't look spectacular - but inside is a whole world waiting to be discovered. Many of the students are from the Northern Emirates remember going there every year for field trips - and they welcomed our class with open arms - but I had never heard of the place.

Everything inside this huge building is from the region - every bug, reptile, bird, fish, small animals and large animals - roamed or swam or crawled here - there were no polar bears or pandas in sight.  The large animals are outside free to roam and look well cared for and needless to say I was happy the jackals were on the other side of the window!

But what about strategy? Well, the Centre (not the part we saw) is part of the BCEAW which is all about strategy and R&D and sustaining a rich wildlife heritage.
The Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife (BCEAW) was opened in 1998, under the Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA), Government of Sharjah. Situated approximately 25 km east of the city of Sharjah the BCEAW, is the only one of the four facilities which make up the Sharjah Desert Park that is closed to the public and, is responsible for the captive breeding and research of the indigenous Arabian fauna.
The BCEAW was purpose built for breeding the regionally endangered wildlife, but it also serves as a base for research into all the mammal, reptile, freshwater fish, amphibians and invertebrates species which inhabit the Arabian Peninsula. The BCEAW is also headquarters of the Captive Breeding Program for the, Critically Endangered, Arabian Leopard. (

The only way to preserve the past and to preserve wildlife is to understand it, do research, and breed animals - and teach new generations of Emiratis (and ex-pats and tourists) about this glorious heritage.

It is about sustainable tourism and cultural tourism and about the wonders of discovery :)

I can't wait until October when my 4 year old nephew will visit - I want to see his eyes when he sees the little animal that sings "I like to move it- move it".  And see the birds and the cheetahs and the ... well, go visit and you will see what I mean!

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