x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Dental clinic first of several surprising new services at Emirates Park Zoo

The dental facility is designed to distract and amuse children as they receive care.

The zoo-themed dental room at the Emirates Park Zoo, Shahama, Abu Dhabi. The facility has six colourfully decorated rooms. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
The zoo-themed dental room at the Emirates Park Zoo, Shahama, Abu Dhabi. The facility has six colourfully decorated rooms. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

ABU DHABI // If the prospect of visiting the dentist brings out the beast in your child, Emirates Park Zoo may be the unlikely source of the perfect solution.

The Kids Park Dental Centre, which recently opened at the zoo, is designed to distract and amuse children as their gums are poked and teeth scraped clean.

“I want the child to feel comfortable in this place,” said Faisal Al Nuaimi, the zoo’s co-owner and deputy chairman. “I’m taking my kids not to a clinic, I’m taking my kids to the zoo and then the games, and they can relax and be happy.”

The clinic at the family-owned animal park in Shahama offers six colourfully decorated rooms.

Each features a large, animatronic blue cat in yellow overalls standing over the dentist’s chair, which is in the shape of a green crocodile.

As the child lies on the crocodile’s cushioned yellow back, they can watch a Disney cartoons on a television screen.

The walls of each room are decorated in keeping with a specific theme: aviation, the desert, lions, the jungle and an aquarium. The clinic also treats adults.

It is managed by Burjeel Hospital and employs two dentists and support staff.

Dental manager Dr George Samir said the cartoonish atmosphere of the place, which overlooks the zoo’s Fun Games arcade centre, puts the young patients at ease.

“Children are more relaxed. They see us differently,” he said. “They can come and spend the day here and have their treatment also.”

The dental practice is one of a number of business areas into which the zoo has diversified.

In January, a veterinary clinic opened on the site, and there is a dry-cleaner catering mainly to patrons of the Emirates Park Resort.

The resort has 27 chalet-style rooms, with the deluxe lodgings looking over an outdoor enclosure populated by giraffes, zebras and gazelles.

At weekends, rooms cost from about Dh699 a night for a standard room to Dh899 for a deluxe room with a view of the zoo. Hotel guests get free access to the zoo.

“Weekends are booked months in advance,” said Saeed Al Amin, the duty manager. Most of the guests are Emiratis or UAE residents, he added, and last year the zoo welcomed 500,000 visitors.

Mr Al Nuaimi said another 72 hotel rooms were being added and should be ready by the summer. There will also be two pools, one for children, one for adults.

A heritage village-style area, with souq tents and an exclosure for up to 30 camels, is also being built and is due to open in the next two months, he said.

Other plans include the first butterfly sanctuary in the Middle East, which is expected to open this year.

The owners are also exploring the possibility of opening a water park and indoor ski slope on the site, which used to be the Al Nuaimi family farm.

rpennington@thenational.ae