If Noah’s Ark Was a Public Petting Zoo

The cheetah is one of the most ferocious predators on the planet. It can reach top speeds of 60 miles per hour. One of the most fascinating attributes of the cheetah is how it kills its prey. It trips them during the high-speed chase and then swiftly chomps down on its victim’s throat. Its jagged set of teeth are shallowly rooted, razorblade sharp, vicious life destroyers… and they were smiling at me from five feet away.

Intimacy. This is my synopsis of the Emirates Park Zoo. I stroked a giraffe’s head as it stole grass from my fingers. My wife was nearly impaled with six over eager rams’ horns. And a child nearly met his maker because he wanted to touch the monkeys, which he would’ve been able to had a few concerned tourists not scuttled him to safety. The animals in this zoo were basically in our back pocket.

Now I’ve seen a zoo or two. Philadelphia. San Diego. Cap May. They’re all nice. But they’re usually not intimate. Intimate is bad for business, but apparently not here in the desert. Here intimacy issues are checked at the front gate, and heavy petting is allowed. Encouraged even. So on a recent trip to UAE’s largest zoo, just on the outside of Abu Dhabi, we found some curious bedfellows.

Bees. Bears. Baboons. Birds. Kookaburras. And more.

But don’t take my word for it…