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Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital: Taking falcon care, conservation, research to new heights

Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital: Taking falcon care, conservation, research to new heights
26 Mar 2024 20:55

SARA ALZAABI (ABU DHABI)

With a quarter century of experience in falcon welfare, the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital has emerged as a global pioneer in caring for the region's cherished bird.

Established by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital opened its doors on October 3, 1999, building on the UAE's rich history of falconry.

Over the years, the hospital has established itself as an authority in falcon care, conservation, and research. Its impressive record of 55 international awards stands as a testament to its expertise in these fields.

In an interview with Aletihad, Dr. Med. Vet. Margit Gabriele Muller, the Executive Director of the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, elaborated on the hospital's journey.

  •  Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital: Taking falcon care, conservation, research to new heights

 

She noted that until 2006, the hospital only catered to falcons, but due to the huge demand for services, the hospital expanded its services to care for all kinds of birds, or "everything that has wings and feathers actually."

In 2007, the hospital further diversified all its services. It opened a hotel for dogs and cats, which includes VIP boarding kennels as well as pet grooming and dog training facilities, she noted.

Also in the same year, the hospital launched its tourism programme, opening its doors for tourists and becoming a must-visit landmark in the capital. Now, the hospital offers guided tours to control the influx of tourists, Dr. Muller said.

The hospital offers "a complete one-stop service for falcons in the Gulf region, including routine check-ups, physical exams, and complex surgeries", she said.

"The 24-hour emergency service ensures swift treatment and recovery for falcons, particularly those injured or attacked. The most common accidents are hitting obstacles due to locking mechanism of the eye muscles," Dr. Muller added.

Through the years, the number of patients have also increased, as the hospital caters to a growing influx of clientele from the Gulf region.

"From a very small facility, we've become the largest hospital for falcons in the world. We are now treating more than 11,000 falcon patients a year," Dr. Muller continued.

  •  Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital: Taking falcon care, conservation, research to new heights

The hospital not only treats sick falcons but also has special facilities for molting falcons.

"When the climate gets very hot here, it's too hot for the falcons to fly. Thus, training is not possible for them. That's why they end up in large cages, which are big aviaries," she said, noting that the birds remain there for around six months.

"They entirely change their feathers annually. And the fact that there is a plentiful blood supply when the new feather grows makes it beneficial to have them in those cages," Dr. Muller added.

Although the falcons appear enormous, they are actually quite delicate, necessitating the aid of complex tools for their care.

"We also have a digital radiology, where we can even see the tiny little structures of the bones. We also do endoscopies. We have actually implemented endoscopies as a routine diagnostic tool. We have all the latest PCRs, and we were the first veterinary hospital that implemented this special kind of PCR, which can detect one particle out of 20,000."

As a facility dedicated to the care of the falcon, the UAE's national bird, the hospital also plays a vital role in heritage preservation.

"By treating falcons, the hospital fosters a deep connection for falconers to their heritage and traditions," she said.

She also noted that the hospital's tourism programme helps to counter stereotypes.

"Many tourists who visit us hold the view that falconry is a sport of rich people. Through our tourism programme, we change that perception, and bring them closer to a way of life that is inherent here."

  •  Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital: Taking falcon care, conservation, research to new heights

 

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