INTO THE RIVETING RAINFOREST

Bindu Gopal Rao
Saturday, 27 April 2019

The Green Planet in Dubai is a rainforest in the Arabian Desert, complete with an ecosystem to match

It is an unusually rainy day when I make my way into the 150 feet tall glass building that houses The Green Planet in Dubai. As I duck the rain and rush into my destination, I am greeted by a pair of blue macaws. The bird lover in me is instantly excited and I am curious to see more.

THE TREE OF LIFE
The four-storied structure is set up to mimic a real rainforest and has the largest artificial tree that stands 82 feet tall in the middle,  extending across all levels. We are advised to start at the top and once the lift opens, the unmistakable sound of chirping birds catches my attention. Set up as a real ecosystem, the place has a whopping 3000 species of plants, birds, reptile, insects and animals. 

Being in Dubai, the rainforest is thriving as the humidity has been carefully controlled to be 70 per cent higher than normal levels and indoor the temperatures ranges from 77°F and 82°F. Naturally, all the species you can see here are the ones that live in the rainforests including South American toucans, three-toed sloths, tree boas, butterflies, iguanas and lizards. 

There is also an indoor waterfall connected to the tree. There are several informative boards that explain the rainforest and its eco systems throughout the facility and this is a great place to visit with the entire family. For instance, did you know that during the dry season, rainforests along the Amazon River grow on dry land and twice each year the river floods and spreads into the forests submerging them beneath six metres of water? Well, to be honest, I did not. The floods actually renew the forests and spread nutrient rich silt that fertilises the land. By mixing river and forest, the floods also allow fish, river otters and other aquatic animals to venture into new areas as they search for food.

FLORA AND FAUNA
The inmates of this rainforest are diverse and the pair of Hyacinth Macaw, the longest parrot species in the world, is a sight to behold, courtesy their stunning blue plumage. The bat cave here has free flying bats and there are several aquariums that have ants, reptiles, snakes and more. 

Seeing the squirrel monkeys jump and climb is a fascinating sight. The resident sloth here was unusually active too and kept moving around much to the delight of the audience here. 

There is also an iguana here, apart from weaver ants, tarantula, crocodile lizards, bright green snakes and slow Loris. However, what had me completely mesmerised were the bright hued birds from the Solomon Island Eclectus, Montezuma Oroprndola, Scarlet Rumped Cacique, Yellow Rumped Cacique, Forest Fody, Solitary Black Cacique, Crested Oroprndola, Chestnut Headed Oroprndola, Black Necked Weaver and Golden Winged Cacique among many others. 

The Green Planet has an animal programme throughout the day, including a bird talk with a biologist, a bat feeding at the bat cave, Archer fish feed, Slow Loris Talk with a biologist, Tamarin feed, Piranha feed and sloth talk with a biologist that happens at different times in a day.  The staff here are attentive and helpful; one of them held a baby python in her hand which visitors could actually touch. 

As you walk down the ramp built around the tree, it is amazing to see the varied flora and fauna. A visit to this place is surely a great way to come up and close with nature while learning all about the rainforest and how it sustains life. Make sure to add it to your itinerary next time when you are visiting Dubai. It is really the best combination of information and entertainment.

FACT FILE
- The Green Planet, City Walk, Jumeirah, Dubai 
- 10 am to 10 pm on weekdays, 10 am to midnight on weekends. 
- For more information, visit, https://www.thegreenplanetdubai.com

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