Zoo plan setback in Bahrain due to lack of fund

No budget available to develop an additional zoo in Bahrain in addition to Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve

  

A proposal to allocate government land in the Northern Governorate to build a zoo has been shot down by the government due to a lack of funds and the existence of an already well-established attraction.

The plan was submitted by the Northern Municipal Council and it included a bid to develop a zoo as part of the popular Farmers’ Market in Budaiya.

It was proposed by area councillor Mohammed Al Dossari who highlighted that the market’s close proximity to the King Fahad Causeway could act as a magnet to attract visitors from neighbouring countries.

However, it was rejected yesterday by the Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry as there was no budget available to develop an additional zoo in Bahrain in addition to Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve.

The tourist destination near Zallaq, which opened in 1976, features 82 species of birds, 45 species of animals and 25 species of plants.

“Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve represents the approved animal zoo in the Kingdom of Bahrain and it is currently being supported by all government authorities,” said Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Minister Essam Khalaf in a written response to councillors.

“It is a natural and open reserve and its properties allow for visitors to venture in with their vehicles while also representing more than 50per cent of the tourist visits to tourism and archaeological sites in Bahrain.

“Implementing the proposal to construct an additional zoo in Bahrain would defeat the purpose of Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve.

“It would lead to a shattering of the efforts and budgets that are allocated towards this project while also decreasing the quality of services provided in Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve. Therefore this proposal has been rejected.”

Councillors are disappointed at the response but haven’t given up complete hope of developing the animal sanctuary which would draw in the crowds in the future.

“This isn’t a convincing response from the Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry in my opinion,” said Mr Al Dossari yesterday.

“We aren’t asking for lions in this zoo, more a ‘petting zoo’ with exotic birds.”

Petting zoos feature a combination of domesticated animals and some wild species that are docile enough to touch and feed and they are extremely popular with young families in Europe.

He added that parking would not be an issue, as spaces are already allocated for the Farmers’ Market and Agriculture and Marine Affairs Authority.

“This would also provide an additional income for the ministry so they should reconsider and review the proposal once again, I believe

“We can’t just rely on Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve as an attraction … we should look into other tourism options too.”

Council chairman Ahmed Al Kooheji shared Mr Al Dossari’s sentiments and plans to issue an official letter to be referred to Minister Khalaf while also proposing reaching out to the private sector as potential investors in the petting zoo proposal.

Meanwhile, plans are already afoot to improve Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve. The GDN previously reported that the Southern Municipal Council had approved a proposal to allow for development work at the site in order to attract even more visitors.

The proposal has been referred to the Cabinet and the Supreme Council for Environment (SCE), under which Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve operates.

The GDN highlighted that pre-pandemic more than 320,000 people visited the park and highlighted the fact that any development plans would depend on the availably of government financing and approval of the Supreme Council for the Environment.

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