Thursday, 15 March 2018

Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital

Tuesday while the kids were at school and Nathan at work, Mormor, Morfar and I went to the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital. Yet another thing on my bucket list that I hadn't managed to get to before, it sure was about time!

The ADFH opened in 1999, and is the largest falcon hospital world-wide. Apart from Falcon and Avian medicine, it contains multiple other departments including Pet Care Center, Tourism, Conference Center, Laboratory and more.
They have boarding facilities for short or long stays, molting cages; and also a breeding program for falcons which started in 2011.

The late Sheikh Zayed also introduced a Falcon Release Program, designed to release wild falcons back in the nature in order to preserve the natural falcon population. Since it started back in 1995, the program has rehabilitated, readapted and released more than 1,600 falcons.

In the waiting/reception area, seating space available both for humans, and falcons:

I had booked us in for the 2-hour guided tour, and it sure was interesting and informative! We had two guides with us, Hassan and Obaid, and they started by giving us information about the history of the ADFH; and about the three different falcons they treat and breed there: the Sakeer Falcon, the Peregrine Falcon and the Gyr Falcon.
Here's Hassan, with a falcon passport. Each and every pet falcon here in the UAE has its own passport:

After the initial information, we were let into the examination room at the hospital itself. We got to hear about the work they do here, treating around 100-150 outpatient falcons every day. Sometimes just clipping their claws and beaks, sometimes imping and fixing broken feathers, etc.

We got to see how they performed a "pedicure" on one of the falcons, this one was a crossbreed between a Sakeer and a Gyr falcon. First they put her under:

Then they used both nail clippers, and an electric file to do her claws:

While she was under they also cut back her beak:

We were shown the different methods they help birds with damaged feathers. It only takes one damaged feather to bring the whole falcon out of balance and hinder it from flying, so it's imperative the falcons have all their feathers.

The wingspan of this type of falcon can reach up to 1,5 meter:

They had many different falcons there waiting their turn. They were just calmly sitting perched on the bench. As they were all wearing hoods, they couldn't see, so they didn't move.

Finally they showed us how they hand-feed the falcons. This falcon got fed a thawed quail, and it didn't take her long to devour that whole bird - flesh, muscles, bones and all... Falcons only ever eat fresh meat, about 10% of their body weight of fresh meat every day.

The visit in the examination room ended with everybody getting to hold a "very friendly" falcon:

The hospital has several operation rooms with all the latest equipment for endoscopy and soft/hard tissue surgery, and also two intensive care units:

Their impressive awards room:

We also got to visit a group of falcons in one of the molting cages, free flying over our heads: 

The ADFH museum, with pictures of the late Sheikh Zayed with different falcons, and also Sheikh Khalifa and Sheikh Mohammed.

It was a great visit, I would recommend it to anyone!

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