Children’s Petting Farm at Sharjah Desert Park
If your nippers are keen to get kissed by a camel, licked by a cow, or want to spend time hand feeding goats, sheep and donkeys, then this is the place to visit. The animals are incredibly friendly (we especially loved the gentle brown-eyed Jersey cows who clearly revel in all the fuss and attention) and the fact that you can have a pony ride for just Dhs10 is an added bonus. Inside, there’s a small café, lots of little tables and chairs for small people to sit and draw pictures of the animals, some noisy, resident guinea pigs, and a cardboard cow with fake udders and a milking stool so the kids can get to grips with some old fashioned dairy farming techniques.
Located off the Sharjah/Dhaid Road. Dhs15 (for adults), children under 12 go free. Open 9am-5.30pm on weekdays (closed Tues), 2pm-5.30pm on Fridays, 11am-5.30pm on Saturdays (06 531 1411).
Posh Paws Animal Sanctuary and Petting Zoo
This combined kennels, cattery and animal sanctuary, where you can join the ‘sponsor your own pet’ scheme, has given a home to some of the UAE’s most unusual, abandoned animals. You’ll find baboons, sloths, porcupines, llamas, ponies, cockatoos and rare ducks, as well more flopsy bunnies, guinea pigs, donkeys and goats than you could feed a carrot to. The sponsoring scheme allows you to pay for the upkeep of an animal of your choice, so that you can build a personal relationship with it, even though it remains a resident of the sanctuary. Sponsorship cost depends on the size of the pet you have your sights on.
Located 25 minutes past Dragon Mart. Open 9am-6pm daily. www.poshpawsdubai.com (050 273 0973).
Have an animal petting birthday party
If you can’t have a pet full time, why not invite a menagerie to your birthday party instead? The Animal Care Centre in Dubai can provide a whole troupe of friendly, furry and scaly visitors to add an additional dimension to any celebration. They come accompanied by experienced handlers, so safety, hygiene and happiness of both the children and the pets is assured. The party’s top billed entertainers include snakes, kittens, iguanas, parrots, rabbits, tortoises, hedgehogs, duckings, puppies, gerbils, chinchillas, guinea pigs, hamsters and ferrets. A CD of hi-res photographs of the event is provided as part of the party package. Dhs1,000 per hour. www.animalcarecentre.biz (050 646 7792).
Adopt an animal with the World Animal Foundation
No matter where you are in the world, you can easily help out a furry or feathered creature in need by becoming a long-distance adopter. The World Animal Foundation enables you to symbolically adopt all kinds of weird and wonderful pets, from spider monkeys and octopi, to penguins, alligators and even polar bears. For a fee of US$35 (Dhs128) you can support the care and environmental conservation projects required to ensure the species’ future survival.
Dog walking for K9 Friends Abandoned Dogs Home
Get fit and enjoy the cooler weather, as well as helping an abandoned dog, by becoming a volunteer dog walker for K9 Friends. Not only does the experience help the dog become more socialized, lead trained, and to stay fit, it helps children learn how to interact around animals and understand the responsibilities attached to dog-ownership. All dog walking must be supervised by an adult, so why not make a regular morning of it? And who knows? Once your situation changes, perhaps you’ll discover you are ready for that full-time pet after all. For dog walking sessions, contact K9 Friends directly.
www.K9friends.com (04 885 8031).