Back in New Zealand, the temperature in summer didn’t often exceed 25 degrees celsius. Moving to Dubai has been a shock to the system. Some days, you just need an escape from the summers heat. Ironically, we chose to escape the summer heat by entering the Green Planet – a rainforest bio-dome – at a balmy 28 degrees. It felt positively cool compared to outside, despite being far warmer than most Wellington summer days!
When I first moved into our apartment in Dubai, I remember spotting the building that houses the Green Planet out our window, and wondering what on earth it was. It looked like a large concrete block with windows, very different from the surrounding buildings. After a bit of a quick google, I was delighted to find out that Dubai has its very own sloth, resident of the biodome! The building itself is built around a huge man-made tree, the largest ever crated, and hosts over 3,000 varieties of flora and fauna. I immediately added it to my ‘must visit’ list.
We visited on a weekday, and it was very quiet. You enter on the floor level and wandering past a number of ponds and aquariums. In one of the ponds were little fish that shot water at prey to drop them into the water! I also saw arowana, one of the worlds most expensive ornamental fish. I’d seen a really interesting documentary on the arowana called Swimming with Dragons, about the pet trade of arowana in Asia. After the aquariums, you make your way to the top of the dome and then wander down, at your leisure, through the four levels. We spent a good hour wandering through the dome, with plenty of time (and space!) to admire everything. Being surrounded by greenery and nature – in the middle of Dubai – was a refreshing experience, along with hearing the sound of so many birds.
One of my favorite things about my visit was the enthusiasm of the keepers. They were more than happy to chat to us about the residents of the dome, and offered me on advice on how to sneak up and get a great photo of their friendly toucan! I also got to pat a baby python who happened to be hanging out. They were friendly and enthusiastic, and genuinely cared about the wellbeing of their animals, which was great to see.
This chameleon was one of the coolest creatures I encountered. He was new to the dome, so was being supervised by a keeper to ensure that no one was bothering him – many of the animals are not behind bars, and free to move throughout the dome. His keeper was very protective and affectionate towards the little guy. He even posed for us.
While Mr Sloth was happily snoozing away – what a surprise! – we had a fantastic visit. We saw him curled up in the bushes, quite content with his life in the biodome. We were even offered the opportunity to walk through the dome again once finished, but had other plans. I’d recommend it to anyone in Dubai – visitors and residents alike.
Location: City Walk, Dubai
Cost: 95AED for adults, and 70AED for children 3-12 years old.
Opening hours: 1pm – 12am (Friday and Saturday), 3pm – 12am (Sunday to Thursday)
Platinum discount? Yes, 20%