Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
Next year will mark the 20th Anniversary of the founding of the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital. Under the late patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, the hospital has become one of the largest avian hospitals in the world.
The history of Falconry in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) follows the rich path of the Bedouins. The first reference to Falconry in the Middle East appears in the ruins of Nineveh under the Assyrians in an engraving dated to 750 BC, modern day Iraq.
There are two types of Falcons used in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for hunting, the "Saqr" Falcon (Falco Cherruq), the Peregrine (Falco Peregrinus). In both cases the female is preferred.
Today in the Gulf States, Falcons can go at auction anywhere from $5,000 to over $25,000. It can not be overstated the love the Emiratis have for their falcons, viewing them as members of the family.
Touring the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
One of the most exciting and unusual tours offered in Abu Dhabi is that of the Falcon Hospital. Groups tours run throughout the day.
Guided by an Emirati, the Falcon Hospital Tour is comprehensive. With traditional Bedouin hospitality, Tourists are taken throughout the facility and shown the multifaceted programs, research, and patient care being offered at the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital.
With no expense spared by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the Falcon Hospital offers:
Numerous clinical examination rooms
State of the Ophthalmology Unit
Entirely separate Falcon Pox Unit
2 Operation Theatres
Digital Radiography Unit
Intensive Care Unit, capable of handling multiple emergencies – in private rooms – at once.
And, in addition to the 200 air conditioned, private rooms, the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital also offers “free-flight aviaries of different sizes and free-flight moulting rooms,” during which time the falcons are given "special food menus and vitamin supplements." The hospital now sees over 11,000 Falcons a year.
Types of Surgeries and Treatments
One of the most fascinating part of the tour of the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital comes when they give an extensive breakdown of the types of surgeries offered. From feather replacements to talon and beak repairs, the surgery is in almost constant use.
Falcons can receive their annual check-ups at the Hospital, as well as full Veterinary Services. While on tour, guests are shown a sedated Falcon and discussions of the various surgeries and treatments.
Throughout the tour, at the appropriate times, tourists are invited to touch the Falcons and even have an opportunity to hold one. For many visiting the UAE this is a once in a lifetime interaction with Falcons. The deep love the Emiratis have for their Falcons permeates every aspect of the fascinating tour.
The great Falconer, His Highness Sheikh Zayed, created the concept of the “Falcon Passport.” The passport is approved by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES). Issued through the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, Falcon Passports are more than a way to transport birds from one country to another.
Rather, Sheikh Zayed created the concept as part of his greater mission of Wildlife Conservation. The Falcon Passport was initiated to stop trapping in countries neighboring the UAE. His Highness Sheikh Zayed set up numerous Wildlife Conservation initiatives, both above ground and under water in the Arabian Gulf.
And, many people are surprised when they first hear about the UAE as a Wildlife Conservation and EcoTourism destination. Thanks in part to programs such as the Falcon Passport, the UAE has become a Wildlife Conservationists “must see” with the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital at the very top of the list!