March 15, 2021

The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

We have been so surprised at the number of animals we’ve seen in Dubai from all over the world. If you’re an animal lover, then the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo are for you. This amazing excursion is located within the Dubai Mall in the heart of the city. The Dubai Mall, just like most things in Dubai, is the largest in the world. The mall is so big, that there’s a dinosaur skeleton inside. While visiting this aquarium, we not only got to see the various sea animals, but we got to interact with them! 

Dinosaur skeleton in the Dubai Mall

The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo

The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo was designed by Peddle Thorp and is currently managed by Emaar Entertainment. This attraction is the home to hundreds of marine animals, including sharks, otters, stingrays rays, and penguins. This popular aquarium and zoo hybrid is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Dubai. It’s the home to thousands of aquatic animals species, holding over 400 sharks and stingrays in a 10 million liter tank! They not only give you access to viewing hundreds of sea animals, but they also offer special encounters where you can interact with them one-on-one. Our experience included petting the penguins, feeding the giant crocodiles, and shaking hands with the otters.

The manager, named Solomon, gave us VIP treatment and showed us around. So, we got a VIP tour of the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, which was incredible. We learned so many interesting facts about these wonderful animals. The trainers were so knowledgeable, and you can tell how much passion they have for the sea and its creatures. They emphasized the importance of keeping the ocean clean from waste, such as plastic. It’s such a threat to these animals because it’s encroaching on their natural habitats. It’s important to realize that their numbers are in great decline because of how people neglect the environment.


First up, the penguin encounter. We were able to interact with a bunch of Antarctic Gentoo Penguins. We not only got to pet the penguins, but we also got to hug them. The penguins were super friendly and seemed excited to be around people. We got a VIP showing from trainers, Helen and Sam, who gave us a ton of great information about the penguins. Helen and Sam had a genuine and strong connection with these penguins. 

A few cool facts about these amazing animals. First of all, they have to be fed more this time of year because they lose their hair and need more fat on their bodies to keep them warm. They eat mostly crustaceans, fish, and squid. Penguins can dive as deep as 200 meters and can do up to 450 dives a day. They can also stay underwater for up to seven minutes. Gentoo penguins can swim at speeds reaching 36 kph, making them the fastest-swimming penguins in the world. Gentoo penguins usually have one mate their whole life. The male Gentoo penguins use stones as a gift to present to the females when trying to woo them. Needless to say, the sea animals are amazing.


Obviously, we didn’t have as personal of an interaction with the giant crocodiles as we did with the penguins. For this King Croc encounter, we were on a platform above them as we fed them. We had to climb about twenty-five stairs to get to the platform. Additionally, we were each attached to a safety harness the entire time. Needless to say, they are dedicated to the safety of the guests. 

During the encounter, we got to see a few of the crocodiles interact with the trainers, which was super cool. Missy, one of the crocodiles currently pregnant, is 80 years old and weighs about 300 kg (660 lbs). Joc, who is 40 years old, is very big for his age and will probably only get bigger because they’re expected to live to 120 years old. Joc currently weighs 450 kg (over 1000 lbs) and may double in size by the time he’s 100 years old. He was also super rude because he not only ate his portion of the food, but he tried to eat Missy’s as well!

A few cool facts about these massive creatures. Crocodiles are carnivores, which means they only eat meat. Their diet consists of fish, birds, frogs, and crustaceans. At the zoo, they only eat animals that have already been killed for them, such as rats, fish, or mice. In the wild, crocodiles will clamp down on their prey with their massive jaws and swallow them whole. They can’t chew or break off small pieces of food like other animals. This would explain why we were observing from a platform! Crocodiles live in tropical climates because they’re cold-blooded animals. They can’t create their own heat. So, during the winter months, they hibernate.


The last encounter we participated in was with the otters. We got to see two sister otters perform. We were only able to shake their hands, we weren’t allowed to touch them like we were with the penguins. They were super cute, and once again, the trainers went out of their way to make sure we learned a lot about the animals and ensure we had a great time. 

The two otters we saw were amazing. Otters are built for swimming so they have a few specific anatomical features. For example, they have short legs with webbed feet, thick fur that will keep them warm, a tapered tail, small ears, and nostrils that can close underwater. These animals can live from 10-15 years and are the largest of the weasel family. River otters can hold their breath for up to eight minutes while underwater and can dive to a depth of sixty feet. These animals have so much personality and are so fun to watch.

Should You Go? 

If you’re planning to visit Dubai with friends or family, make sure you visit this aquarium and underwater zoo. It was such an amazing experience to interact with these majestic animals. If I had to recommend the best encounter, I would suggest the otters or the penguins because we got to interact with them the most. However, all of them were incredible. They also had a few other encounters that we didn’t do, such as the shark and stingray encounters. Thanks for following along with me on this journey. If you have any further questions or would just like to connect with me, you can send me a message here

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Big Guy Big World is a travel blog, following Mark Jacoby’s journey as a big guy on a bigger journey, exploring the world during a global pandemic. Follow along as we experience some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic places.

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