43 Amusing Dublin Zoo Facts For Kids Who Adore Animals

Akinwalere Olaleye
Oct 16, 2023 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Feb 17, 2022
Dublin Zoo is a major attraction in Ireland.

The famous Dublin Zoo serves as a major attraction site in Ireland owing to its thrilling history filled with historical, conservational, and cultural significance.

Dublin Zoo is not only a great place for a family day out, but is also an important center for educational and animal research activities. It still stands as a place of national importance after fruitfully surviving the on and off struggles of the historical past.

From the name itself, it can be ascertained that the Dublin Zoo is located in Dublin, Ireland.

Covering a huge area, the zoo is divided into several zones having a plethora of things to do.

Apart from a blissful day out among the rare wildlife species of the Earth, the zoo has a whole lot more things to do to keep monotony and lethargy at bay. Every year, over a million visitors, both domestic and foreign, visit the zoo, making it a site of national importance in Ireland.

The zoo authority has joined hands with world wildlife conservation projects to carefully protect, study, and conserve the endangered species of the world, to save them from the face of total extinction.

The History Of Dublin Zoo

The Dublin Zoo has had a very shaky historical past since the time of its inception. Time and again, it was saved from permanent closure. Let us take a look at the brief historical evolution of the Dublin Zoo.

  • The thought of building a zoo first came to the minds of a team of doctor-cum-researchers who wanted the specimen of different animal corpses for study.
  • Another reason behind the creation of the Dublin Zoo was to view the daily lifestyle of wild animals in neatly enclosed spaces, so that they did not gatecrash into the fairgrounds like the one that happened at the Donnybrook Fair in the 1830s.
  • Dublin Zoo was built in 1831 by the Royal Zoological Society and first opened its doors for the public on September 1 of the same year.
  • While the San Diego Zoo in the USA ranks as the number one zoo in the world, the Dublin Zoo boasts of being the largest zoo in Ireland and also happens to be the third oldest zoo in the world.
  • In its early years, the Dublin Zoo spanned over an area of four acres (1.6 hectares) only, situated at the middle of the Phoenix Park in Dublin. But at present, it covers an area of 69 acres (28 hectares) of land area.
  • At the time of World War II, the Dublin Zoo authority faced a major setback due to heavy financial crunches as visitors stopped visiting. But the general public managed to donate food to keep the animals alive.
  • During the winter of 1989, the Dublin Zoo almost came down to the point of permanent closure. But thanks to its visitors and animal activists who raised the issue, forcing the government to provide capital funding for its maintenance and up-gradation.
  • The huge famine that hit Europe had created major food shortages among the countries. As most people resorted to meat-eating, there arose a dearth of meat during the Easter Rising for the zoo animals. It was so much so that many of the zoo animals were sacrificed to keep the healthy predators, like tigers, alive.
  • In 2010, the Dublin Zoo accommodated an overwhelming number of 963,053 visitors, which truly reflects its popularity and charisma.
  • As a large part of the finance comes from the admission and membership fees of its visitors, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic had taken a serious toll during the lockdown. Once again, the Dublin Zoo almost reached the verge of closing down, pleading the public for funds. To everyone's amazement, a whopping €2 million came up from the public donations accompanied by another €3 million given by the government to upgrade the Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park in County Cork.
  • It was again partly reopened on April 26, 2021, on the occasion of Zoo Lover's Day.
  • On the screens, an Irish TV Show called 'The Zoo' was shot at the Dublin Zoo.
  • A hearty Bornean orangutan amplified the popularity of Dublin Zoo when a video went viral online where the orangutan was found saving a chick from a pond.
  • A beautiful building named the Roberts House is an ancient brick house, with the design of the building reflecting Victorian architecture. In 1898, the building was named the Roberts Lion House, after the society's president at that time.
  • Except on Christmas Day and St. Stephen's Day, the Dublin Zoo in Phoenix Park is wide open for its annual visitors for all the other 363 days.

The Animals At Dublin Zoo

One of the oldest sites, the Dublin Zoo is dedicated to animal study and conservation projects. Here is a list of interesting facts to pique your curiosity about the zoo:

  • The entire area of the Dublin Zoo at Phoenix Park is divided into different sections where a host of animals reside. It is segmented into 10 sections, simulating 8 different habitats that include the Asian Forests, Orangutan Forest, African Savanna Plains, Kaziranga Forest Trail, Reptile House, City Family Farm, Fringes of the Arctic, South American House, Roberts House, and Sea Lion Cove.
  • The Dublin Zoo came into being with only 46 mammals and 72 birds, all donated by the London Zoo.
  • In 1844, a three-year-old male giraffe named Albert was donated by the London Zoo, who was a rage during the famine-hit years, helping with the zoo's finances until he died in 1849.
  • Like other modern zoos across the world, Dublin Zoo also follows strict protocols aligned with the rules of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) and other global associations.
  • To maintain animal health and welfare, several conservation projects on rare breeding animals, like the golden lion tamarins, rhinos, and tigers, are undertaken.
  • The Fringes of the Arctic is themed as an Arctic region conserving exotic animals like the Siberian tigers, gray wolves, and penguins.
  • The Kaziranga Forest Trail and the Asian Forest section have created a habitat for the species resembling Asia, particularly the Indian natural habitat. It houses endangered species like Asian elephants and Asiatic lions, among others.
  • The Asian Forest was earlier named the World of Cats, hosting two species of lions native to the countries of India and Indonesia.
  • Sponsored by Kelloggs, the South American House hosts animals like the golden lion tamarin, saki monkey, military macaw, two-toed sloth, and iguana.
  • Imitating the natural habitat of the giraffes, zebras, and the African wild dogs, the African Savanna Plains were made.
  • Among the mammals, the important animals of the Dublin Zoo are the species of apes, Asian elephants, gibbons, hippopotamus, and golden lion tamarins. Some bird species include the flamingo, peafowl, Humbolt penguin, and the fruit bat (an extremely endangered species). The major reptiles of the Reptile House include the Annam leaf turtle, star tortoise, west African crocodile, Burmese python, green-crested lizard, and others. Fire-bellied toad and tarantulas can also be found at the Dublin Zoo.
  • Now, over 400 animals belonging to 100 different species reside at the Dublin Zoo.
  • Out of the eight habitat zones, the Sea Lion Cove is the most expensive artificial habitat suited perfectly for the preservation of Californian sea lions.
  • Apart from the preservation of the rare wildlife, domestic farm animals like sheep and goats can also be observed by the visitors at the Family Farm. Other farm animals can also be spotted at this famous Family Farm, where their breeding patterns are studied for conservation and research projects.
  • The skeleton of Prince Tom, a famous Asian elephant of the Dublin Zoo, is preserved and put to display at the Trinity College Zoological Museum.
  • The senior-most animal in the zoo is Betty, a western chimpanzee brought in 1965.
  • Between 2014 to 2017, over 11% of zoo animals have died, with numbers rising to 164 deaths. Of them, some critically endangered species have also expired, including Harry (the famous gorilla), the scimitar-horned oryx (an antelope species), the waldrapp ibis (a rare bird species), meerkats, the Humbolt penguin, an ostrich, and a juvenile snow leopard.
The plethora of animals found in the Dublin Zoo makes it one of the best in the world.

The Major Exhibits At Dublin Zoo

A hub of the conservation center, the Dublin Zoo is also famous for the different activities that it offers throughout different times of the year. Read on below to learn some extra exciting Dublin Zoo facts that talk about more than just wildlife-watching:

  • In the earlier times, the Dublin Zoo lured visitors, during the tough times of the famine and world wars, by hosting breakfasts, garden parties, and dance events at the heart of Phoenix Park that became a major hit.
  • From March to September, different sections of the Dublin Zoo host keeper talk shows that add to the income of the zoo authority. The caring animal keepers share interesting details about the wild inmates of the zoo, sharing details on their lifestyle.
  • One can also get a chance to watch the animal behaviors if the show time matches with the feeding time of the animals around.
  • The most exciting event of the year has to be the Wild Lights during Christmas time. Every year, the Dublin Zoo lights up the zoo's area with amazingly beautiful handmade lanterns installed on the theme stories, myths, and legends.
  • Many events narrating the stories of different animals, the need for their conservation, and the past and present conditions of these animals around the world are also told to visitors.

Other Activities To Do At The Dublin Zoo

Well, there are many more things to do at the Dublin Zoo, which can be quite hard to complete in a day. Here are the other enthralling things to do at the Dublin Zoo that will turn your visit into a wholesome one:

  • A lake at the heart of the Dublin Zoo was strategically converted into another in-house attraction after Samuel Haughton, a geologist and physician of Trinity College, advised the government to stretch the zoo's land area across the lake that gets frozen during the winters.
  • From 1864 onwards, the frozen lake during winters became a natural ice skating rink, bringing in additional income to the Dublin Zoo.
  • An elephant ride on the back of the mighty Asian elephant is another exciting activity to indulge in. It started in 1844 after the Prince of Wales donated an Asian elephant, named Prince Tom, from the London Zoo to the Dublin Zoo.
  • The elephant rides also help bring in extra euros, supplementing the zoo's wellbeing.
  • The Zoorassic World, a Jurassic Park-themed section of the zoo, offers an exciting experience to learn about the extinct reptiles of the planet that once dominated the Earth millions of years ago.
  • It is best suited for kids between three to four years, but is equally enjoyable for parents as well.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

Read full bio >