Dublin Zoo, located in Phoenix Park, opened its doors to the public in 1830, originally founded by members of the medical professional who wanted to study the animals. The initial entry charge was very expensive for the times, limiting admission to the relatively wealthy. Dublin Zoo, after a few years, reduced admission on Sundays to one penny, allowing the poor people of Dublin to enjoy the strange animals they had only heard about in pictures! A donation from London Zoo, featuring 46 mammals and 72 birds, added more depth to the animals at the zoo. The first giraffe arrived in 1844 and the first pair of Lions arrived in Ireland in 1855, producing two cubs two years later.
An open day was held in 1838 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s coronation and over 20,000 people attended! This day still holds the record for the most visitors in one day, but well over a million people visited the zoo in 2012. Dublin Zoo has survived through various rebellions and wars, most difficulty occurring during the 1916 Easter Rising and World War II.
In 2009, one of the newest areas of Dublin Zoo opened: the African Savanna. This area was built to allow for more area for the larger African animals to roam and be located with other African animals to mimic their traditional habitat. In 2011, the Gorilla Rainforest was opened. This “stimulating environment” allows again, a more natural environment for the animals including private areas where the gorillas can retreat from visitors and other gorillas. [x]
The newest animals to the Dublin Zoo in the last couple years includes an Amur tiger, two snowy owls, a tapir calf, two white crowned mangabeys, a white-faced saki (a type of monkey), two male okapis, a southern white rhino calf, a three-year old gorilla, and a 7-year old Asian lion. According to a poll held by their website, the most popular Zoo animal was the Red Panda! [x]
Today, Dublin Zoo covers 28 hectares and takes about 3 hours to walk around and see all of the animals. They offer daily talks (March – September), and the times can be found here; Dublin Zoo also offers other events and workshops throughout the year.
Dublin Zoo also is featured in ‘The Zoo,’ a TV series airing on RTE1 that will be starting it’s fifth season on April 10th. [x]