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British Duchess visits Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital

posted on 08/11/2016: 1031 views

HRH the Duchess of Cornwall, wife of the heir to the British throne, HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, this morning visited the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, 45 kilometres from Abu Dhabi.

The Prince and the Duchess arrived in Abu Dhabi yesterday at the beginning of a three-day official visit to the United Arab Emirates.

The Duchess was received on arrival by Dr. Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, and Dr. Margit Mueller, the Executive Director of the Falcon Hospital.

Following an explanation of the significance of falconry in Arab culture, she was introduced to a group of children from the British School Al Khubairat, one of the UAE's oldest international schools, who have been learning about different aspects of local culture.

She also met with two Emirati children and was introduced to their falcons.

This was followed by a visit to the Hospital's veterinary centre, where falcons and other birds are treated. The Duchess observed a surgical procedure being carried out on a falcon, and was shown a large selection of the iconic birds being treated there.

She was also photographed with a Little Owl on her finger, much to the delight of the visiting British Media.

"The visit of the Duchess of Cornwall to the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital is a great honour," Dr. Mueller said after the visit. "It has provided an opportunity to celebrate the deep-rooted tradition of falconry in our Emirati Society, while, at the same time, allowing her to enjoy the way in which the Hospital lets visitors to get close to majestic falcon species and gain a deeper understanding of the beautiful heritage of falconry."

The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, the largest falcon hospital in the world and a leading centre for falcon medicine, was established in 1999 by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, EAD. It was the first public institution in the UAE to provide comprehensive veterinary health care services exclusively for falcons.

"Since its inception, the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital has received around 95,000 falcon patients for treatment and examination from all over the UAE and the Gulf region, " Dr. Mueller said. "We now handle around 11,500 falcons a year."

With the latest equipment and technology, the Falcon Hospital can provide treatment to up to 250 falcons at the same time. It also has large free-flight aviaries in which up to 500 falcons can be housed while moulting their feathers.

Dr. Mueller noted that the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital is also a centre for scientific research. Its laboratory can carry out in-house tests on any species of bird, as well as falcons, and on small and large animals. Researchers at the hospital have also discovered and studied two previously unknown diseases in falcons.

Its internationally-recognised internship programme has already attracted veterinarians, veterinary students, falconers, raptor rehabilitators and laboratory technicians from the UK and 35 other countries.

The ADFH also serves as the Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, with its laboratory able to utilise the latest methods of testing in molecular biology, histopathology and virology.

In addition to the falcon and avian facilities, the ADFH contains a small animal veterinary hospital, the ADFH Pet Care Centre, which offers specialised care, including surgery, for pets as well as a facility for boarding cats and dogs and a dog training programme.

It also works with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, EAD, on the Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme. Instituted a couple of decades ago, the programme, in the spring, releases back into the wild birds that have been used for falconry. So far, over 1,300 birds have been released, in Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Iran.

The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital has become one of the UAE's top tourist attractions and has received for four consecutive years the Middle East Responsible Tourism Award of the World Travel Awards, the so-called "Oscars" of the tourism industry. Overall, it has received 26 international awards, from nine countries, including the UK, the USA, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, France, Qatar and UAE. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


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