Dublin Zoo operator recorded bumper 2019 before Covid struck

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The Save Dublin Zoo campaign has now passed the €2 million mark.
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By Gordon Deegan

The body that operates Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park had a bumper year in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

That is according to the annual report for the Zoological Society of Ireland, which show that the profits at the society doubled to €1.4 million for 2019.

The pre-Covid jump in profits was achieved after combined revenues for the two attractions increased by seven per cent from €20.75 million to €22.2 million.

Earlier this week, Dublin Zoo stated that it may have to close its gates due to the impact of Covid-19, which has brought about two enforced closures that has left a €9.5 million hole in its finances.

The zoo is currently spending €500,000 a month on feeding and caring for the animals under its care, and has warned that it may run out of cash by springtime.

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On Tuesday, Dublin Zoo launched its Save Dublin Zoo campaign while the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, stated the Government is committed to doing everything it can to support the attraction.

€2 million mark

A spokesman for Dublin Zoo confirmed on Friday that the campaign has now passed the €2 million mark.

“It has been incredibly encouraging to see the special place Dublin Zoo has in the hearts of the Irish public,” the spokesman said.

“Even with an exhaustive cost-cutting programme in place, we still are projecting an annual operating loss for 2020 in the region of €1.5 million, depending on whether Dublin Zoo can reopen in December."

Highlighting the high costs of operating Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park, the not-for-profit Zoological Society’s operating expenses last year increased from €19.9 million to €20.73 million.

At the end of 2019, the Zoological Society’s net assets totalled €31.42 million, made up of €19 million in a development reserve; €10.15 million in an accumulated surplus and an emergency reserve of €2.2 million.

The break-down in revenues last year show that €15.1 million was generated from gate receipts; €2.9 million in annual pass and membership income; shop income of €2.97 million and other income of €1.17 million.

The staff costs for the Zoological Society last year totalled €7.4 million, with key management personnel sharing €1.17 million. The surplus last year took account of non-cash depreciation costs of €3.3 million.

The Zoological Society last year enjoyed the boost in profits and revenues after 1.2 million attended Dublin Zoo day and events, and numbers attending Fota Wildlife Park increased by 9 per cent to 462,047.

Zoo census

The annual report also contains a 2019 census for the zoo, showing that it was home last year to 38 separate species of mammals, 19 different species of reptiles and 13 different species of birds.

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The annual report records that there were 48 births amongst 13 different species of mammals last year at the zoo, while there was only one birth amongst the reptile population.

Births last year included two red ruffed Lemurs; two Sulawesi crested Macaque; two Western Lowland gorillas; three California sea lions; two giraffes and 14 Chilean flamingo.

The report also stated that at the end of January 2019, Bornean orangutan Mujur gave birth during the night but the male newborn was found dead in the morning.

The zoo also lost a Southern White rhinoceros and a grey wolf during the year, along with a number of lizards and geckos.

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