. Also here were displays of the caracal - sadly, it was pacing - and the sand cat, which looks like a super-cute domestic (with extra-big paws, which increases the cuteness factor). I was tempted to stick a note to the cage reading "I CAN HAS JERBOA?" Then a nocturnal display, with probably 40 different rodents and small animals, including gerbils (which originated here as wild animals), jerboas (which are awesome), and bats. Finally, a viewing area for the herds of gazelle, oryx, ibex and flamingos, then seperate displays for baboons, cheetahs, wolves, hyenas and leopards. All of these except the leopard were up close to the glass when I visited; the place was pretty dead, so maybe that's part of it. Sadly no photography allowed.
Okay, now that I'm done squeeing over the zoo, I came into Sharjah proper, which is interesting. Not rich like Dubai or Abu Dhabi, it's sort of quieter and friendlier and retains a little more charm. I spent the evening wandering through shopping areas; first the Central Market, which was a large souk specialising in jewelery, carpets and antiques (bought a small souvenir here), then a fish market -- they were unloading the boats right there -- and then the fruit and vegetable souk. There's a lot of specialization and agglomeration here, which goes for everything -- today in Al Ain, I found an entire block of perfume shops. Pleasant. And I've got a cheaper room, so I'm not freaking out about the price so much.
Tomorrow morning, I've got a flight booked to Muscat, Oman. I should do some preparation for that, I guess.
Okay, so I'm in an internet cafe to finish my evening here in Sharjah. Didn't get up to much in town, because I had a pretty cool stop on the way over; I went to the Sharjah Desert Park, which had a botanical museum (which I skipped) and a children's zoo (double for that), but also the Arabian Wildlife Centre, which was awesome. It's a zoo, and actually a pretty good one at that -- not a lot of emphasis on the megafauna of the world; in fact, none -- it focusses entirely on the wildlife of the Arabian Peninsula. And has a good breeding program; a lot of exhibits were baby animals bred at the centre, including the first of a species of blind Omani cave fish ever bred in captivity. I think it had every animal on the peninsula, or came close; first a few dozen species of reptiles, amphibians and even a few fish, insects and artachnids (did you know that scorpions fluoresce under ultraviolet light? Awesome!) Then an aviary, with dozens of birds -- a lot of doves, but also the Houbara Bustard, which let me say "You Bustard!" a lot