If you are interested in animals, Riyadh has one of the best zoos in the Gulf region.

Located near the old Malaz racecourse, it was built in 1957 to house the various animals that had been presented to the first three kings as gifts; but of course it has grown since then.

The zoo is made up of a number of gardens and wildlife-themed parks and boasts over 1,400 examples of about 350 species. Many are on the endangered list.

The best way of seeing the animals is on one of two trains that carry visitors on a 20 minute journey through the park. You can get booklets, which are published in both Arabic and English, about the indigenous animals of the region.

The downside of this attraction is that families cannot visit together. The zoo has men-only days and female-only days, so fathers can take their sons and mothers can take their daughters, but parents cannot go with their children together.

Admission is SR10 (children are SR5) and men’s visiting days are Mondays and Wednesdays from 9am to 1pm and 3.30pm to 6.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 6.30pm. Women may visit Sundays and Tuesdays 9am to 1pm and 3.30pm to 6.30pm and Thursdays 9am to 6.30pm.

The zoo is easily found on Al Ihsa Street a few blocks south of the Pepsi Cola factory. From the Kingdom Centre, take the Fahd Highway south to Makkah Road and turn eastwards. Go over the first fly-over and take the next exit, turning right at the Pepsi roundabout. The zoo is on your left one block north of the Malaz stadium.
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