Fancy shaking this little fella by the hand? Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo’s brand new Encounters experience gives animal lovers the chance to “meet and greet” their creatures.

You may have seen those adorable images floating around the internet of otters at sea holding each other’s hands when they sleep so that they don’t drift apart.

Now otters are reaching out their paws to wave at humans at Dubai Aquarium where visitors are offered the chance to get up close with these adorable animals.

In fact, the aquarium is now offering three new animal encounter experiences: check out the video below… 

The new otter encounter takes you behind the scenes of the otter habitat at the zoo, where visitors can interact with these charismatic animals. You’ll meet a member of this small-clawed family during a special educational presentation to learn more about training and otter behaviour.


During our brief 25-minute encounter, Diego appeared from behind the main enclosure, down a steep ramp and onto a large circular podium. He then spent a large portion of the session rubbing his fur on everything he could: from our shoes, and camera tripods, to the podium and his trainer – marking his territory from the get-go. The trainer described Diego’s endangered natural habitat, while showing us just how clever otters can be – jumping, waving and lying still on the command of a tiny clicker held in the trainer’s hand. You can’t help but fall a little bit in love with these furry fellas.

Elsewhere in the zoo, marine enthusiasts can get now a backstage tour of the huge aquarium  before getting ready to feed its resident rays. Visitors strap on a pair of waders and wellingtons and walk into the shallow waters of the aquarium with a small bucket of fish.


With a light tap on the bars – signifying feeding time – several of the 50 cow-nose and eagle rays glide their way towards us sucking on the fish in our hands.

And if that’s too tame for you, you can learn about crocodile behaviour while watching overhead as the aquariums royal residents – King and Queen croc – are fed hefty chunks of meat. There’s no guaranteeing that the pair will eat on cue, of course, but it’s astonishing to come so close to these enormous predators.

balcony for crocs


After experiencing all of the new encounters available, nothing really comes close to the experience of meeting Diego the otter. Watching as he playfully snoops around the audience, rubbing his scent on everything he can, you’ll see just how intelligent these tiny creatures are.

Animal Encounters are held every hour, daily from 11am to 10pm. Visitors must arrive at least 30 minutes before the session.

Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, daily 11am to 10pm. Dhs200 per animal encounter. Tel: (04) 4485200. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall.