Dubai’s natural climate is arid and desert-like, but that doesn’t stop the posh city from trying on other ecosystems to wow its tourists. To that end, Dubai opened The Green Planet last month, a massive indoor rainforest housed within a 150-foot-tall glass building. The artificial ecosystem is home to more than 3,000 species of plants, insects, and animals, and the centerpiece is the world’s largest artificial tree, – recreating most of the natural elements of a rainforest in the middle of the Arabian desert.

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The artificial tree at the heart of the Green Planet stands 82-feet-tall and its trunk houses many of the systems that make it possible to recreate a lush rainforest in a desert city. Although the weather outside in Dubai is often quite toasty, much like a rainforest, the big difference inside the enormous glass tower is the humidity. An advanced climate-control system keeps the humidity level at 70 percent in order to support many of the same lush rainforest plants that would grow in a wild forest. Inside, temperatures are kept between 77°F and 82°F as well.

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A rope suspension bridge leads fearless visitors to the tree canopy, high above the floor of the 150-foot atrium, where they can get a closer look at the world’s largest artificial tree which pulls off the illusion flawlessly. Connected to the artificial tree is an indoor waterfall that cascades down several stories, sending a cool mist into the air. Among the rainforest wildlife who make their home at the Green Planet are porcupines, sloths, snakes, spiders, and a vast array of exotic birds, so the bio-dome is akin to a miniature zoo as opposed to simply a botanical garden.

The faux rainforest is open to the public for a small entry fee, and its main purpose is to educate residents and visitors to Dubai of all ages about rainforest wildlife and conservation. “This is a living classroom, an ­experience where anyone can learn about tropical wildlife,” said living exhibits manager and curator Eric Hupperts in an interview with The National. “A visual connection with what children, in particular, are learning about is so much more powerful than in a sterile classroom.” Hupperts is a wildlife expert who moved from California in January to work at The Green Planet, which opened last month after years of planning.

Via Business Insider

Images via The Green Planet