Dubai on Sunday launched plans to build a safari park-style facility to replace the emirate's ageing zoo.
Hussain Nassir Lootah, director general of Dubai Municipality, said that the Dubai Safari Project, which will be located in Al Warqa 5 in Aweer Road, would cover 400 hectares and include a safari park, butterfly park, golf courses, and entertainment and recreational areas.
Dubai Safari, which will cover 60 hectares of the total area, is aimed at "establishing the best centre for wildlife in the world", Lootah said.
The site of the project is currently being prepared with roads and infrastructure, gardening, and landscaping, he added.
Hundreds of animals, birds and other creatures living in enclosures in the existing facility in Jumeirah will be relocated to the new safari park.
Dubai Zoo has attracted a wave of criticism over the years, with animal lovers and charities complaining about its small cages and poor living conditions.
Campaigners from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) famously gathered outside the zoo in July 2010 dressed up in monkey masks and prison outfits, protesting against the conditions the animals were being kept in.
The facility, which was established by HH Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum in 1967, now holds more animals than before, some of which are endangered and exotic animals illegally trafficked into Dubai from other countries.
Lootah said in February that the centre was outdated, and said the new zoo would provide better conditions for the animals.