When I visited Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, I was not sure what I would like about it. After all, hospitals are not the place I want to visit in my life. However, this hospital became the highlight of my trip!
Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital.
Do you believe if I say the hospital has air-conditioned individual rooms and wards and ICU for over 250 birds? And yearly more than 7,000 falcons are received for examinations and treatment? The Falcon Hospital has X-ray room, Operation Theaters, ophthalmology unit, pox unit and an OPD section as well! Advanced endoscopy, laser surgery, complex orthopedic surgery for fractures are part of its regular activities. It looked, I was in a private five star hospital ! After all, Falcons form a very well specialized and spectacular group of hunting birds and are termed as ‘hunting dogs of the skies’.
Falconry is an important traditional sport of the Arabian Gulf. The emirs, chieftains and nobles are known to be practicing hawking from ancient times. The falcon is the national bird of United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and several other countries, recognizing the importance of falconry in their tradition and culture.
Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital (ADFH) is the world’s largest and most advanced falcon hospital. Since its inception in October 1999, it has emerged as one of the most reputed falcon hospitals in the Gulf region and leading center for falcon medicine world-wide. Over the years, it has established a loyal and a wide patient-base not just in the UAE, but also in countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain.
Our tour to hospital started with display museum and what an eye opener it was for me! It gave me good insight into the culture of the region, the importance of falcons and a glimpse into a world that few people get to see. I didn’t know much about Falcons except that they are hunting birds and quite expensive to own one.
Some facts that enlightened me were :
1. Average age for Falcons is 20 years.
2. They can carry weight twice their own weight.
3. The peregrine falcon is known for its speed, reaching over 350 km/h during its high speed dive for hunting, making it the fastest member of the animal kingdom. The minimum speed is 250 km/h.
4. Falcons are categorized depending on their size, speed and price.
5. There are three seasons for them – Hunting, Molting and breeding. Breeding season is from January till May. Then comes molting period when they rest and get new feathers, new colors and come October, hunting season starts.
6. Good Falcons could cost in excess of hundred thousand Dirhams !
After Museum visit, we were guided to OPD where the patients were patiently waiting for their turn. We witnessed a Falcon getting a dressing on his wounds. Poor baby, he had to get anesthesia for it.
From being established as a purely veterinary facility, the ADFH has expanded in the fields of education and awareness, training and research. Due to the huge demand for providing experience to other avian species, they have opened the falcon hospital to a fully-fledged specialized avian hospital for all kinds of birds and poultry species.
It also offers annual check-ups because it is often difficult to recognize whether a falcon has a health issue. The staff is experienced in treating everything they might diagnose. Blood tests, artificial extension of feathers, and what not. A falcon’s flight gets significantly unbalanced when they lose even a single flight feather. So it is a standard treatment to repair or substitute lost feathers by those kept in stock.
The Falcons are also issued passports if they don’t own one. The passports have details such as Origin of country, Gender, Chip or ring no. which is tied to its feet.
No wonder the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital has become one of the major tourist attractions in the Abu Dhabi Emirate. It goes far beyond the standard “falcon-on-the-arm” demo at most resorts and desert safaris. Here, you get to learn about the birds, their history and the heritage as well as actually interacting with them. This is great fun for all ages.
Tips:- Guided tours have to be booked in advance, you can do via their website or by email. Reservations are mandatory and tickets are available online.
Do you know of any such cool place? 😀
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