It’s bizarre enough that Dubai has an indoor ski slope despite outdoor summer temperatures averaging at over 40 degrees Celsius, but now a colony of penguins has taken up residence at this popular tourist attraction. Ten King Penguins listed as “least threatened” on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, and ten Gentoo Penguins which are “near threatened” were relocated from Seaworld in Texas, where a penguin breeding program has been underway for several years. Ski Dubai insists the animals are treated like royalty and are there to raise awareness, but animals rights activists are already criticizing at the move.
Luxury lodgings for penguins
The National reports that the penguins were brought to Ski Dubai so that guests can interact with them, and that they have been set up with luxury accommodation.
“Ski Dubai has specifically built a housing area and pool at the resort to mimic an Antarctic environment. A staff of 13, including a penguin curator in charge of the well-being of the birds, was brought in from different parts of the world,” according to the paper.
They are fed with imported “restaurant quality” capeline fish, a small forage fish found in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, and receive bi-weekly visits from a local veterinarian in order to ensure that they are adjusting well.
Leave the penguins alone
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) activists are less convinced by the benefits of having a colony of Penguins in Dubai – far from their natural home. Asia-Pacific senior campaigner Ashley Fruno told the paper that this is a profit-seeking venture and that if Ski Dubai were genuinely concerned about the plight of penguins and other antarctic creatures, they would simply leave them be.
Albeit expensive and strange, this program seems somehow less egregious than the global warming park, which Arwa reported last year “follows the story of a clan of Penguins who are displaced from the Arctic (and not the Antarctic where they normally live) by the impacts of climate change, drift along the oceans until they make a home in the coastal waters of the Arabian gulf.”
“Through this project we’re raising awareness about the conservation needed to sustain their natural habitat,” he said. “We ask the birds what they want to do, we never force them,” Ski Dubai’s Operations Manager Tom Scheffer told The National, adding that “As ambassadors of their species, for them we only have utmost respect.”
:: The National
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