A couple of months ago the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo at The Dubai Mall, launched a series of new animal “Encounters”. You can now interact, albeit minimally, with crocodiles, rays or otters. We choose the cute furry guys for this weekend’s boredom buster and thought we would share the details.
Going on a Friday afternoon, I had expected some crowds and while there were quite a few visitors in the Underwater Zoo itself, the Otter Encounter was ours alone. Good thing when our 2 are curious chatterboxes! It also made the initial safety chat simpler, so I could make sure that Joshua’s sensitive nose was prepared for the sharp smell (only lasts a couple of minutes) and Liam would keep his eager hands to himself (he really wanted to touch the otters).
The encounter takes place behind the enclosure in the Underwater Zoo portion (enter via the 2nd floor entrance) and you get to interact with 2 otters. We got to meet Diego and Cato who are both 9 years old. Cato is described as the Confident Loner in the group (Joshua reckons she’s only out for the fish) and Diego is the Scholar (Joshua rightly called him the sneaky clever one – which had the trainer in stitches).
Their handler takes them through a series of interactive displays which had them playing basketball with the boys, shaking hands (yes Liam’s patience was rewarded) and getting their check-ups. We learnt that part of their training involves preparing them for visits to the clinic for check-ups etc. to make sure their teeth are healthy and they don’t have any injuries (pretty much like we prepare kids for dentist trips). All in all, the encounter lasts about 20 minutes (probably longer with bigger groups) and the kids get to feed the otters fish, throw some toys to play with them and feel their paws.
Tickets for the Otter Encounter are AED 200 per person (no kiddie discounts) and can be bought online beforehand (highly recommended if you are doing this with tots in tow). If bought online, the tickets are valid for 6 months and will get you into the Aquarium Tunnel (always a hit), the underwater zoo and the Otter Enclosure. Honestly, we had as much fun at the Underwater Zoo section as with the otters! Show times are daily at 2.00pm, 4.00pm and 6.00pm so slots in easily with toddler nap times, just arrive 10 – 15 minutes earlier to get settled.