With the week of work to relax and the morning showing signs of fantastic weather, it was time for a day trip to Dublin Zoo. So after packing the three kids and one of Ryan’s friends, the wife and Grandma into two cars, we headed of up to Dublin. Thanks to Grandma we ended up taking the scenic route to the Phoenix Park, arriving just after lunch. However as Granny was armed with her Family Day Pass we saved a fortune on admission charges and had to forgive her for the long journey to get there. Word of Warning, if you intend to visit Dublin Zoo by car, please try to get there early as parking spaces nearby are limited and you could waste a lot of time trying to get a space.
So for those of you who have never been, Dublin Zoo is located in the Phoenix Park, Dublin 8. Dublin Zoo, then called the Zoological Gardens Dublin, was opened on 1 September 1831. The animals, 46 mammals and 72 birds, were donated by London Zoo. It is no coincidence that the founders of Dublin Zoo were members of the medical profession. Their interest was in studying the animals while they were alive and more particularly getting hold of them when they were dead. In the 1830s the laws concerning cadavers for medical use changed. Up until the early 1830s you had to rob graves unless you were part of one of the big medical institutions, so getting your hands on the corpse of a primate without having to rob a grave was quite something. The initial entry charge per person was sixpence, which was a sizable sum at the time and limited admission to relatively wealthy middle-class people. What made Dublin Zoo very different from some of its contempories was a decision to reduce the charge to one penny on Sundays. This made a day at the Zoo something that nearly every Dubliner could afford once in a while. And it became very popular.
In 1833, the original cottage-style entrance lodge to the zoo was built at a cost of £30. The thatch-roofed building is still visible to the right of the current entrance. In 1838, to celebrate Queen Victoria’s coronation, the zoo held an open day – 20,000 people visited, which is still the highest number of visitors in one day. In 1844 the zoo received its first giraffe. In 1855 the zoo bought its first pair of lions. These bred for the first time in 1857. Reptiles got their own house in 1876. The first tearooms were built in 1898. On 17 June 1903 an elephant named Sita killed her keeper while he nursed her injured foot. She was put down by members of the Royal Irish Constabulary. Times of trouble and war also caused problems for the zoo. Meat ran out during the Easter Rising of 1916. In order to keep the lions and tigers alive, some of the other animals in the zoo were killed.
A lion named Slats was born in the zoo on 20 March 1919. According to ‘Dublin Zoo: An Illustrated History by Catherine De Courcy’ it was one of many lions filmed by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio in 1928 to be used as their mascot Leo. Between 1989 and 1990 the financial situation at the zoo became so serious that the council actually considered closing it. The Government then gave it a meaningful annual grant in line with what happens in other European countries. 13 hectares of the land surrounding the lake in the grounds of Aras an Uachtarain were added in 1997. This made a profound improvement in the amount of space available for the animals.
Some of the animals on the day were not in the mood of posing for photos and some where, certain enclosures made getting pictures near impossible, GGGrrrrr. But with great weather and a full afternoon walking the Zoo i think everybody had an enjoyable day, and our own bunch of monkeys went home very tired. Hope you enjoy the small collection of Photos taken on the day.