20 birds born and bred in captivity arrive in Dubai from Texas
- By Derek Baldwin, Chief Reporter
- February 1, 2012
- Journalists get a preview of the penguins during the media tour to announce the snow penguins debut at Ski Dubai as part of the Unique ‘Peng-Friend’ encounter at Mall of the Emirates in Dubai.
- Snow penguins get acquainted with the environment at Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates.
- Trainer Nicky with penguins during the media tour. SkiDubai will open its penguin enclosure to the public on February 5.
- Penguins swim under the ice water tank during the media tour. As many as 20 public penguin encounters will be scheduled each day at the SkiDubai.
- Penguins at SkiDubai, Mall of the Emirates.
Dubai: Newly arrived penguins appear to be quickly adapting to their sub-zero Celsius home at SkiDubai replete with an ice-cold swimming pool and private living quarters designed to replicate Antarctic conditions.
Born and bred in captivity, ten King penguins as well as ten Gentoo penguins were flown 5,799km from SeaWorld in San Antonio, Texas to Dubai as part of the new Snow Penguins exhibit at the indoor ski facility.
SkiDubai will open its penguin enclosure to the public on February 5.
Fahad Al Lawati, manager commercial and communications for Majid Al Futtaim, said the new attraction will offer "a unique experience" to paid visitors in the coming years.
Omar Al Banna, marketing and sales director for Majid Al Futtaim, said the arrival of the penguins will "add value to the community … and take SkiDubai to the next level."
By offering residents through the Peng-Friend programme a chance to get up close and personal with the birds, the attraction will indirectly help conservation efforts aimed at preserving the natural environment.
Newly established pairs are already courting in their new Dubai digs and it may only be a matter of time before SkiDubai could witness the hatching of native-born penguins in the emirate.
As many as 20 public penguin encounters will be scheduled each day in which visitors over the age of three will be granted face time and underwater viewing of the birds swimming. Visitors at all times will be accompanied by staff. Personal cameras will not be allowed into the enclosure.
Tom Scheffer, SkiDubai operations manager, said "We're the first in the Middle East to have King penguins in our colony."
Captivity: right conditions seen
Penguins right at home given right conditions. Dubai Marine ecologist Keith Wilson will be the first to tell you he's no expert on Antarctic penguins.
But the marine programme director at UAE-based Emirates Marine Environmental Group said he has no objections to housing penguins in a specially-designed enclosure at SkiDubai given the birds were hatched and raised in captivity.
By contrast, zoos and animal facilities can run into trouble when attempting to move wild animals caught in nature and penning them into man-made structures which is not the case with these penguins, he said.