Ghanim Al Hajeri, Director General of the Zoo ‘&’ Aquarium Public Institution in Al Ain (ZAPIA) officially commenced the First Arabian Zoo and Aquarium Meeting with an opening speech before introducing the guest speakers: Dr. Gerald Dick, Executive Director of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA); Sally Walker, Director of the South Asian Zoo Association for Regional Cooperation (SAZARC); and, Dr. Stephen van der Spuy, Executive Director of the African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZAB).
Over 30 delegates from several Arab countries, including UAE, Qatar, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan and Bahrain attended the meeting, to discuss possible collaborations on initiatives associated with raising standards associated with animal husbandry and welfare, joint research initiatives, breeding, education, conservation projects, and funding opportunities.
“Today’s meeting facilitated open dialogue among zoological institutions across the Arab region. We share a precious cause, and Al Ain Zoo is leading this initiative as part of its ongoing commitment to the highest standards of animal welfare, and towards wildlife conservation and preservation on a greater, regional level. I would like to extend our deepest appreciation to our guest speakers for sharing their invaluable insight, and to our regional counterparts for their enthusiastic participation,” Ghanim Al Hajeri said.
The first day of meetings provided a solid introduction to Thursday’s programme, which will see delegates participating in roundtables to discuss the strengths, opportunities and challenges of subjects such as the establishment of a regional association, and animal husbandry and welfare.
Commenting on the meetings, Dr. Gerald Dick, Executive Director of WAZA said: “WAZA was formed 77 years ago and today stands as a strong voice in the fight for conservation with a global network. We are pleased to have been invited to be a part of the first step in establishing a regional network, allowing us to share our knowledge and experiences, and commend Al Ain Zoo for leading this initiative.” ZAPIA is a proud member of WAZA – an organisation committed to promoting animal welfare standards around the globe – and is actively involved in several internationally coordinated conservation projects and works with other like-minded organisations such as Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, The Species Survival Commission, San Diego Zoo, Edinburgh Zoo, World Conservation Union and Species Survival Commission, the Northern Rangelands Trust of Kenya and the Sahara Conservation Fund to conserve and re-introduce threatened arid land species such as Arabian Oryx, Scimitar-horned Oryx, giraffes and gazelle.
Founded in 1968 by the late Sheikh Zayed, Al Ain Zoo is a family destination, providing entertainment and learning experiences in a natural outdoor environment.