In order to pass the boredom during the epidemic, many French reality show stars and rappers decided to check in at the zoo. They did not hesitate to drive an hour in the desert to a special destination-the Albuquerque Private Zoo in Dubai. In this zoo the size of a football field, visitors can pet a lion, play with the baby white tiger, or get in touch with a giant python for only 250 euros. Those Internet celebrities and celebrities inevitably post photos of themselves and rare animals on social networks, but they do not care about the origin of these animals and whether such behaviors will cause harm to the animals.
”I have a Canadian Timberwolf (protected animal), a Madagascar lemur (threatened species), two polar foxes-one white and one silver gray, seven tigers (endangered species), male lions and Female lions, African hyenas, grizzly bears, crocodiles, alligators, tortoises, capuchin monkeys, macaques…” said Nurding, the zoo manager. The Frenchman, who has lived in Dubai for many years, told reporters that he founded this place in 2014 with a local partner. The latter originally had some large animals, such as lions and tigers. They opened the zoo purely out of “interest.” .
Albuquerque Zoo near Dubai
French rappers and Internet celebrities like to post photos of themselves and wild animals on social networks.
Although Nurdin would not disclose who this mysterious UAE partner is, he can guess from the name of the zoo that this person is Humaid Albuquesh-a person who has millions of followers on Instagram and is often on Instagram. The Internet celebrity who shows off his luxury cars and animals above, some of his photos were taken at the zoo, and some were taken in his apartment. Nurding said that after maintaining the zoo at their own expense for a period of time, they decided to open it to the public a year ago and charge an entrance fee to offset part of the food expenses. In addition, these animals can also be rented at a price of no less than 1,000 euros, mainly for model photos. In 2017, the UAE passed a law that prohibits the sale and possession of wild animals by individuals. Only zoos, circuses, breeding and research centers have the right to own these animals. But social networks make people realize that outside of these legal places, wild animals are still being traded illegally.
In an investigation in early February, the British investigative website Bellingcat spotted the trend of illegal animal trade fueled by Instagram celebrities. Through the Dubai vacation photos released by celebrities, Bellingcat identified two frequently mentioned social accounts-MBE.777 and Safari_Dubai. After carefully studying the pattern on a white female tiger named Olifa, Bellingcat confirmed that the star animal was sold to the Albuquerque Zoo by the owners of these two accounts. “In December 2019, when I adopted Orifa, it was one year old. I don’t know where it was before, only that its former owner can’t afford it.” Nording said. When asked if the former owner of Olifa was named Abdullah, the person behind the Safari_Dubai account, his answer was yes.
A tool for human ostentation
Nurding gushed to reporters describing the wildlife trading system in Dubai, among which MBE.777 and Safari_Dubai are the social network accounts of the two traffickers. He said: “The law does prohibit the trade of wild animals, but the local custom is so, keeping falcons and cheetahs in the living room is not unusual.” After reading the Instagram of the zoo, Albuquerque and the animal dealer Abdullah, The reporter discovered that this network of wildlife lovers even penetrated into the top political circles in the UAE. Behind the Instagram account alhammad_exotic_pet, which has 28,000 followers, lies Lieutenant Colonel Massoud Alhamad, the deputy chairman of the Dubai Police Commission. Nurdin said that the official who often appeared with the UAE prime minister and members of the royal family was also a participant in the “animal trade”, and this illegal act did not seem to have affected his power. “He was the chief of the police station before the law was promulgated, and the law has not changed his hobby.” Nurding said jokingly. According to UAE media, the son of Lieutenant Colonel Al Hamad is also a partner of Albuquerque Zoo.
Humad Albuquesh often posted his luxury cars and domesticated wild animals on the Internet. The picture posted on Instagram is captioned “The most perfect car with the most perfect animal.”
A little lion was placed in a luxury luggage and posing for a photo.
On Instagram, these pictures of tourists manipulating beasts — feeding young brown bears, posing next to cheetahs, etc. — are really worrying for environmentalists. “Wild animals cannot escape to places where there is no human eye. Some of them have some stereotyped behaviors, such as wolves or tigers pacing back and forth.” Celina Heath, director of the International Fund for the Protection of Animals France and French Africa Representative Office Ray-Bienvenue said. After seeing the pictures of YouTube bloggers, she exclaimed: “These animals have become a tool for human display. Their needs as wild animals have not been respected.”
Wild animals have become a tool for mankind to show off. Their needs are not respected.
In January 2020, reporter and animal protector Hugo Clement disclosed a photo of a reality TV couple at the Albuquerque Zoo. In the photo, they are holding a cheetah and a lion cub. The media reported on this, and eventually the female star deleted her online activity, not only publicly apologized, but also donated money to an animal protection association. His agent apologized for his misconduct in the press release, claiming that “she has always opposed animal performances.” A few months later, singer Wejdene posted a video of herself playing with a little monkey in the Albuquerque Zoo, saying that she “missed this little monkey very much”. In response, the “30 Million Friends” Foundation responded: “What the poor little monkey misses most is its wild environment, its mother, and the days when it was not used or dressed up by humans!”
Increase the risk of poaching
The posing behaviors referred to by these Qianfus did not seem to make the French celebrities flinch. On February 14, the rapper Soolking posted two photos, one of which was a giant python wrapped around his neck, and the other was a monkey standing on his shoulder. These celebrities or Internet celebrities all smiled when they left the zoo, saying that the animals were treated well here, “not under drug control like animals in Thailand.” However, Heathley-Bianfoni said: “In addition, taking selfies with bears or tigers in the middle of the desert in the UAE will also have serious consequences. Because such demand increases, those living in the wild The animals will soon face the risk of being poached.”
Nurding said that he only adopted wild animals from the locals that they could not keep. “Most animals are kept in large cages in their own gardens. “The French manager tried to use words to make his zoo a “refuge”. “The locals have all kinds of animals, and they usually contact me directly and ask me to collect them.” But his statement is unconvincing. In 2017, his partner Albuquerque once said to France TV 2: “In the beginning, I only had one tiger. Later, I have more and more animals. Now, I have almost all the species. As for those The animals I don’t have yet, I hope I can buy them one day.”