Go on, take a walk on the wild side…

From bird watching and butterfly spotting to diving with sharks, Dubai is home to an array of wildlife experiences. All you have to do is choose your thrill level, from mild to wild.

Discover seven incredible animal encounters in Dubai.

1. Spy flamingos at Ras Al Khor


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One of Dubai’s most inspiring wildlife experiences is free for all to enjoy – watching the flock of flamingos that call Ras Al Khor home. Visit the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, then stroll to the three bird hides situated within the park to spot the pretty pink inhabitants at play.

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, daily 7.30am to 5.30pm (Oct to Mar) and 6am to 6pm (Apr to Sept), free. Tel: (800) 900. rasalkhorwildlife.ae

2. Visit Dubai Butterfly Garden


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Be transported to a fairytale setting at Dubai Butterfly Garden, located next to Dubai Miracle Garden. Step inside the world’s largest covered butterfly garden, where you’ll be surrounded by 15,000 brilliantly coloured butterflies in a series of climate-controlled domes.

Dubai Butterfly Garden, Al Barsha South 3, Dubailand Area, next to Dubai Miracle Garden, daily 9am to 6pm, Dhs50. Tel: (04) 422 8902. Facebook.com/DubaiButterflyGardenOfficial

3. Feed the giraffes at Dubai Safari

Among the array of animals at Dubai Safari, you’ll find a herd of friendly – and hungry giraffes. As part of the special animal encounters, you can feed these friendly giants in the explorer village daily at 10.30am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm & 4pm.

The Ripe Market, Academy Park, Fri and Sat 9am to 7pm. ripeme.com

4. Picnic or pedal at Al Qudra Lake


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Whether you pack your bicycle or a picnic hamper, there’s plenty of animal action at Al Qudra, home to 170 animal and bird species. Spy wild oryx and camels as you cycle the 85km bike track, or unfurl your blanket on the edge of the Love Lake to watch the resident ducks, swans and fish glide by.

Al Qudra Lake, Al Qudra Rd (D63), Dubai.

5. Meet the menagerie at the Green Planet


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Want guaranteed up-close-and-personal animal encounters in Dubai? Then hightail it to Green Planet at City Walk, where you can meet monkeys, snakes, sloths and more. Spread over four storeys, the lush indoor rainforest is home to 3,000 plant and animal species, including spiders the size of dinner plates. Gulp.

Green Planet, City Walk, daily 10am to 7pm. From Dhs110. Tel: (800) 637 227. thegreenplanetdubai.com

6. Swim with dolphins and sea lions at Aquaventure


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Slip into a wetsuit for a bucket-list encounter at Atlantis Aquaventure, where you can swim with dolphins or have your photo snapped with a friendly sea lion.

Aquaventure Waterpark, Atlantis, The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, from Dhs325.  atlantis.com/dubai/atlantis-aquaventure

7. Dive with sharks in The Lost Chambers Aquarium


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For the ultimate in aquatic thrills, dive among the 65,000 sharks, rays and fish in the Ambassador Lagoon at Atlantis, The Palm. Snorkel across the surface, or get your pulse racing with the Predator Dive, where you’ll have the chance to hand-feed sharks and stingrays.

The Lost Chambers Aquarium, Atlantis, The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, from Dhs280 to Dhs2,655. atlantis.com/dubai/atlantis-aquaventure

Images: Facebook/Instagram