VRZoo is the latest technological addition at the Dubai Aquarium
Would you like to experience being in the middle of a pride of white lions, a band of mountain gorillas, a herd of African elephants, a colony of sea lions, a herd of dugongs or a brood of moon jellies?
Yes, you can do that without costing an arm and a leg and from the comfort of a mall as 'VRZoo (Virtual Reality Zoo) opened on Thursday at the ground level of Dubai Mall's Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo.
"VRZoo was launched by Emaar Entertainment in collaboration with Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo and Wevr (California-based VR company) to give urban residents an opportunity to explore the species' natural habitats based on live-action footage and CGI (computer-generated imagery) in a fun, interactive, fun and educational way," Paul Hamilton, GM and Curator at Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, told Khaleej Times.
He added that more than the 'wild side' experience, VRZoo is also aimed at focusing on raising awareness and boosting conservation efforts by connecting guests with endangered animals in an immersive platform.
Location: Ground level of Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo at The Dubai Mall
Cost: Dh30 for the 360-degree experience, Dh50 for the CGI experience
"Educating the public about endangered species is a key priority at Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo and we're glad to be able to reflect that mission in the new VRZoo attraction," Hamilton said.
He added: "VRZoo is the next step in diversifying our educational platforms. The experience brings adventurers closer than ever to incredible creatures such as African elephants and dugongs, in a safe environment, where they can come face-to-face in a way that's not possible in the wild."
"VRZoo carries an important message in that all the species showcased could be lost forever in the near future without intervention. It is frightening to think that in our lifetime, some of these species may become extinct and only live in VR for future generations," Hamilton stressed.
Visitors at VRZoo can explore two different takes on reality: one based on live-action footage, and the other a CGI virtual experience. Each show is approximately 10-12 minutes long and tickets are priced at Dh30 for the 360-degree experience and Dh50 for the CGI experience.
The live-action footage explores a 360-degree reality of locations including Uganda (to see silver-back mountain gorillas), South Africa (white lions), Maldives, Egypt, Australia and Mafia Island.
Watch the Twitter video here.
The CGI animation, meanwhile, allows viewers to immerse in underwater habitats and come face-to-face with species like giant squids, moon jellies and deep sea planktons. They can also chase manta rays, dive deep into a luminous abyss, explore a sunken shipwreck or get inside a fossilised whale.
VRZoo is the latest technological addition at the Dubai Aquarium, following the opening last year of digital shark cage and a 20-metre long aquarium demi-tunnel.