Usually, it’s bad news when your vacation includes a trip to the hospital, but that’s not always the case in Abu Dhabi. The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital is one of the city’s more bizarre yet fascinating attractions. The world’s first and largest hospital dedicated to the predatory bird opened in 1999 under the direction of a prominent German veterinary surgeon.
About 6,000 birds pass through each year, occupying the 200 air-conditioned treatment rooms. This might seem strange until you understand that the sport of falconry has deep roots in the city. The sport is so popular that falcons are even issued passports and the prized animals can cost tens of thousands of dollars. If a falcon loses even one strand of feather, they can experience balance issues in flight so their owners bring them to the hospital for checkups, treatments and feather substitutions regularly.
Guided tours of the facility provide insight into the history of the sport and the physiology of this graceful bird. You’ll be able to see the birds swoop through a free-flight aviary, witness a falcon pedicure and feel the weight of one as it perches on your arm.