Animals & Wildlife News

‘Kuwait 6’ Lions have a New Home in South Africa

Here is a feel-good story to start the week. Six lions rescued from Kuwait finally have a new home at a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa. Known as the ‘Kuwait 6’, the males Muheeb, Saham, Shujaa, Saif, and females Dhubiya and Aziza were victims of the illegal pet trade. All the lions were less than two years old when they were either surrendered, confiscated, or captured in Kuwait after being abandoned by their owners.

Staff and volunteers at the Kuwait Zoo nursed the lions back to health and looked after them until they were able to find them a home. After a long 15-hour journey, the lions arrived in South Africa last week.

Animal Defenders International (ADI), the non-profit organization that campaigns against animal cruelty and exploitation, offered the lions a new life at the 455-acre ADI Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa. Qatar Airways Cargo assisted ADI in transporting the animals as part of their WeQare ‘Rewild the Planet’ initiative. Qatar Airways Cargo has an amazing and very caring program where they offer free transport to organizations involved in returning wild animals to their natural habitat.

For their first two weeks, the lions will be in quarantine before being released into the main habitat. ADI have been posting photos and videos of the ‘Kuwait 6’ on their instagram account @animal_defenders_international and it looks like the lions are in a really good place.

If you’d like to donate for the care of the ‘Kuwait 6’, you can by clicking this link. But, you also have the option to adopt one of the lions starting from just 20KD. For more on adoption, click here.

Animals & Wildlife Information Photography

Wall of Peace will NOT be Demolished

Here’s some good news to start the day, according to TEC, the Wall of Peace sculpture by Kuwait artist Jafar Islah which is located behind Burger King on the Gulf Road will NOT be demolished as part of the refurbishment of the waterfront.

Even more good news, I managed to find out the names of the two saluki dogs owned by the Dickson’s from my post the other day. Brian Duggan, the author of Saluki: The Desert Hound and the English Travelers Who Brought It to the West managed to dig up the old letters Zahra had sent him and in the letters she mentions the names of their two dogs, Dhabaan and Khataaf.

Update: Not only will the Wall of Peace not be demolished, but according to TEC it will also be restored to it’s original marble state!

50s to 90s Animals & Wildlife Photography

The oldest photos of pet dogs in Kuwait

This post was supposed to be a silly one, but after I started writing it I went down a rabbit hole and found some interesting information, so bear with me.

A couple of weeks ago I got access to Tarek Rajab Museums’ private photography archive, and part of their collection were the family photos of the Dicksons. While going through those photos, I came across a number of photos of their dogs. They were beautiful shots and I joked that they were probably the oldest photos of pet dogs taken in Kuwait. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that was probably true. How many people in Kuwait had cameras back in the 1920s let alone one they’d use to take random photos of their dog? Not many.

I found five beautiful photos, some taken outside the Kuwait wall which you can clearly see in the backdrop of the photos. H.R.P Dickson lived in Kuwait with his wife Violet Dickson, and daughter Zahra Freeth from the 1920s until the 1940s.

I started off by trying to find the names of their two dogs, so I took out my copy of H.R.P Dickson’s “The Arab of the Desert” to see if he mentions them anywhere, and ended up finding a whole chapter where he talks about Salukis. Turns out they were popular dogs in Kuwait at that time and mostly used for hunting. Also, unlike other dogs, Salukis were not considered “najis” (unclean) so were allowed to enter the tent and lie on the rugs and mats. But, Dickson never mentioned his dogs, so I started to think maybe they weren’t his.

I kept digging and it led me to buying the book “Saluki: The Desert Hound and the English Travelers Who Brought It to the West“. In it there are a few pages that talk about Dickson’s dogs and turns out they actually did get two Saluki dogs in 1929 while in Kuwait. The dogs accompanied H.R.P Dickson everywhere he went because he found them to be a good conversation starter with tribesmen, and his wife Violet was mostly responsible for walking them daily. I couldn’t find the names of the dogs, but at least I got verification they were in fact their pets.

I believe the young girl pictured above is their daughter Zahra.

Update: I managed to find out the names of the dogs! Brian Duggan, the author of Saluki: The Desert Hound and the English Travelers Who Brought It to the West dug up photos Zahra had sent him and on the photos she had written the names and the dates of two male salukis, Dhabaan and Khataaf.

Brian also discovered that in the book The Arab of the Desert, HRP Dickson mentions the name of his female saluki as well, Turfa.

Animals & Wildlife Information Sports Things to do

Watch the Last Camel Races of the Season

If you’ve been meaning to watch the camel races then tomorrow (Saturday) is going to be your last chance since the season is ending.

The races will start at 1:30PM and there will a total of 20 races taking place.

There is no entrance fee and there are three ways of watching the races:

  • You can watch the races from the stands near the entrance to the track

  • You can also drive into the track and drive up to the starting lines. From there you can watch the camels waiting for their turn and you can then watch the start of the race.

  • Finally, you can watch the race by driving around the track in your car while following the race (it can get chaotic).

It’s a fun thing to do if you haven’t done it before. Here is the location to the tracks on Google Maps.

Animals & Wildlife Events

Don’t Miss the Largest Cat Show in the Middle East!

The largest and most prestigious cat show in the Middle East is taking place this weekend in Kuwait. The 2024 K-Cats Show is taking place at the Boulevard Ballroom tomorrow Friday, February 16th, and on Saturday February 17th.

The show is held in association with the prestigious Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) with judges coming in from the US and Europe for this event.

The show starts at 1PM tomorrow and 10AM on Saturday. If you’re looking for something random and unique to do this weekend, this is it.

For more info, click here.

I went to the show back in 2016 and thought it was fun, so definitely not going to miss it this year.

Animals & Wildlife Things to do

Visit the Flamingo Observation Deck

It’s flamingos and birdwatching season right now. Winter in Kuwait is an excellent time to observe rare birds that you wouldn’t see during the rest of the year with flamingos probably being the most popular one people like to see.

There are a number of spots across the coast where you can watch flamingos in the winter, they start from near the free trade zone and stretch up all the way to Doha. One of my favorite spots to birdwatch is the “Flamingo Observation Deck” which you can find by searching on Google Maps.

The Flamingo Observation Desk is a long stretch of pathway that takes you close to some marshes near the sea, and close to where many birds tend to hang out. Don’t expect to be able to get close to the birds since the closer you get the further they fly away from you. I’ve previously been able to watch the flamingos using my drone, but a better way would be to just watch them from a distance, or through binoculars or cameras with zoom lenses.

Sometimes the tide is low and the birds are further away, in that case I recommend a good pair of Wellington boots so that you can walk in the mud and get closer to them.

Wherever you decide to birdwatch from, please cleanup after yourselves and don’t leave anything behind. After posting about duck park last time I got a lot of people telling me they visited and it was littered. Don’t leave any trace after you leave.

Animals & Wildlife

Visiting Shaab’s Duck Park

Duck Park is a small public park located in Shaab that has a small pond and lots of ducks! I first found out about it last year but back then when I visited the park, there weren’t that many ducks and the pond had been drained. But, I passed by a couple of days ago and things have now changed.

The park is pretty nice, small but is being well taken care of and features a climbing rope section for kids along with some swings and toys.

Other than ducks you have a few other kinds of birds that roam around freely as well as the park cats. I call them the park cats since they seem to be chill with the ducks and aren’t trying to constantly chase them or eat them.

If you want to pass by and check out the park, here is the location on Google Maps.

50s to 90s Animals & Wildlife

The First Zoo in the Gulf was in Kuwait

A few years ago I came across the photo above taken by George Rodger in 1952 of the first elephant in Kuwait. Initially, I thought the elephant was for our current zoo, but that couldn’t have been possible since the zoo opened much later, in 1968. Turns out there was another zoo in Kuwait before that called “Salwa Garden”.

Salwa Garden was the first zoo in Kuwait and the first modern zoo in the Arabian Gulf. It was established in Rumaithiya by Sheikh Jaber Al-Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in 1954 back when the area lacked basic infrastructure like roads or electricity.

Sheikh Jaber traveled to India and Africa in search of animals, and whenever he got the animals he also brought with them their minders to help ensure that the animals received proper care. He also strived to establish near-normal conditions for the animals. For the Himalayan bear for example, he purchased ice slabs for it from the Al-Ghanim ice factory until it adapted to Kuwait’s climatic conditions. He also made sure that all the animals were well fed and medically cared for.

The garden was called “Salwa” because it was an Arabic term for recreation and entertainment. Admission was free because Sheikh Jaber wanted to share his love for nature with others and it the garden ended up attracting both locals and foreigners.

A decade after establishing the garden, Sheikh Jaber decided to close it due to rapid urbanization and the establishment of the Kuwait Zoo in Al-Omariyah which he ended up donating most of his animals to.

It’s a really interesting story and if you want to read more about it, there is a great paper written by Rua Alshaheen, Yousef Alharoun and Mohammed Alajmi called “A case study of Kuwait’s Salwa Garden” which has a lot of info and where I got most of mine from.

There is also a book called “Salwa Garden” that was published by Mona Al-Sabah which contains information as well as a lot more photos of the garden.

Animals & Wildlife

Touch of Hope Animal Shelter Fundraiser

Touch of Hope is a local animal shelter that rescues and rehabilitates cats and dogs. They’re holding a fundraiser next weekend to help the hundreds of rescued animals at the shelter.

If you’re interested in helping, they’re having a karaoke night filled with fun games and prizes as well as a delicious Asian buffet.

Place: Gimikan Restobar, Salmiya
Time & Date: Thursday, Jan 12, 2023, 6-10 pm
Price: 25 KD with ALL proceeds going towards buying food for the animals

If you’re interested in booking, you can WhatsApp them on 99835252

Activities Animals & Wildlife

Camel Races are Back for 2022

Since the weather has gotten cooler it’s a good time to visit the camel races if you’ve never visited before. Last year I posted a pretty thorough article on the experience and I’ll probably do an updated one this year but, I’m not planning to visit until my FJ40 comes back from Abu Dhabi since I wanted to visit the races in that car.

Last year I went in my Alfa and it was pretty fun and I got some great shots, so I wanted to do it again but in another car this year. If you do want to go before my updated post, the biggest change this season is the timing of the races.

Starting this past Saturday the races now begin at 2:15 PM instead of 1:00 PM. Other than that I think everything else should pretty much be the same. So until my 2022 post is up you can use my previous post as a reference.

Animals & Wildlife

Kuwait Has So Many Street Cats & Purebreds. Here’s Why.

Last week two popular cat instagrammers visited Kuwait, @kittenxlady and @iamthecatphotographer. While here they met with a few cat rescuers who took them around and showed them our large street cat population. Because we see hundreds of street cats on a daily basis it ends up feeling very normal. It’s only when watching videos like the one above, or when we travel that we realize oh wait, that’s a lot of freakin cats!

The fact that there is no government animal shelter and instead, it’s just private individuals trying to manage and take care of the abandoned cats is really sad. But maybe it’s also a good thing since any attempt to manage the dog population always involved poisoning.

Animals & Wildlife

Vets that are Open 24/7 in Kuwait

On more than one occasion I’ve read about pets requiring emergency help from a vet in the middle of the night and not getting it because the owners couldn’t find any veterinarians open. In some cases, the pet passed away because of this which is why I want to put together a list of vets that are available 24/7 in case someone runs into a similar situation in the future and Googles for information.

So if you know a vet that is available at late hours, please let me know in the comments.

Animals & Wildlife

Hitch the Cat

Here’s a feel-good story to start the day. A few days ago an article popped up on my feed about a cat called Hitch. The story was going viral internationally so I was curious to see what it was all about.

Laila was on her way home when she spotted a little kitten on the side of the highway. So she parked her car on the emergency lane and tried to catch it but the kitten kept running away until it ran back towards her car and climbed under it and hid inside. She tried to get him to come out but she couldn’t. So she ended up driving home slowly hoping the cat wouldn’t fall out or get hurt. Eventually, she made it home and called a road aid service to come and help her get the cat out. The kitten had survived.

Laila took the tiny kitten to the vet and eventually called it Hitch. Laila published a video of the whole incident back in May and the story got picked up by The Dodo a few days ago. Since the video was originally published it has gotten over 345,000 views and over 120,000 likes.

Hitch eventually flew across the world to the US where earlier this month he got adopted. I’ve embedded the original video into the post above but for more videos and pictures of hitch you can check out Laila’s account @rescueforwinston

Animals & Wildlife

Whale Shark Lost in Khiran

A whale shark is currently lost and stranded inside one of the lagoons in Khiran. Whale Sharks are slow-moving filter-feeding sharks and feed almost exclusively on plankton and small fishes, and so pose no threat to humans. They’ve been seen a number of times before in Kuwait. Back in 2009 a whale shark got stranded in Marina Crescent and divers managed to free it again. In 2006 though the whale shark didn’t get as lucky when it got stranded in Khiran and ended up dying.

Based on the videos and information circulating, some boats were trying to chase the shark out and ended up running over it and cutting off one of its fins. The EPA had to issue a message to the public to explain that whale sharks are harmless and basically not to attack it.

You can check out videos of the whale shark on the instagram account @kayak4kuwait as well as stay posted on the EPA’s progress by following their account @epa_kw

A couple of years ago a whale shark got stuck inside a lagoon in Abu Dhabi and was freed in a dramatic rescue operation. You can watch that rescue in the video above.

Animals & Wildlife Things to do

The Little Jungle

Photo by Ahmad Dashti

Back in 2015 I posted about an abandoned zoo project off the 6th Ring Road. Turned out the abandoned project was a small zoo. Around 10 years ago there used to be a small zoo in Fintas called The Little Jungle but it closed down when the government took over the land to convert it to a residential area. To compensate the owner, the government gave him a much larger land off the 6th Ring Road so he could rebuild his project. I guess the owner ran into financial problems and the project was abandoned until last month when the project was completed and The Little Jungle finally opened its doors again.

Photo by Abdulghani Abulkareem

The Little Jungle is a mini zoo with various exhibits holding a variety of animals including giraffes, zebras, kangaroos, and even weirdly, a Pomeranians exhibit. I haven’t passed by the place but I had a couple of friends visit during Eid and one complained about the terrible organization while the other told me it’s no better than our main zoo but can still be fun for really young children.

Photo by Khaled Aljeeran

The weather has gotten pretty warm but they are opening in the evenings from 4PM to 9PM so it still is doable. Entrance is 2.5KD per person and they have a bunch of videos and highlights on their Instagram account that showcases the zoo @littlejunglekw. If you want to visit the place, here is their location on Google Maps

If you’ve been there let us know about your experience in the comments.