Dublin Zoo celebrating its 190th anniversary

Dublin Zoo Celebrating Its 190Th Anniversary
Since its opening in 1831 with a small collection of animals, Dublin Zoo has become one of the world’s leading zoos and a world-class centre for conservation.
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Dublin Zoo is celebrating its 190th anniversary.

Since its opening in 1831 with a small collection of animals, Dublin Zoo has become one of the world’s leading zoos and a world-class centre for conservation.

The Zoo has a long history which has many significant milestones including how it became ‘the people’s Zoo’ when admission prices dropped to a solitary penny on Sundays in 1840 to surviving the Easter Rising in 1916, as well as witnessing the birth of so many endangered animals along the way.

Dublin Zoo is celebrating its 190th anniversary.

To mark the occasion Dublin Zoo are asking the public to vote for their favourite memorable moment from the Zoo’s long history, with a winner chosen at random to receive a family pass to Dublin Zoo and themed 190th anniversary merchandise.

Amongst the shortlisted moments are:

  • In 1857, lion cubs were born for the first time at Dublin Zoo after the purchase of two lions named Natal and Natalie in 1855. Nearly 600 African cubs were born over the next 100 years.
  • The Easter Rising, 1916. When fighting broke out in the city on April 24th, visitors and most staff left and the Zoo closed. The superintendent, Benjamin Ferrar, a medical doctor, was on duty in the hospitals. His wife, Isabella, took charge and was assisted by three young keepers. During the first week, the fighting came close to the Zoo; there was also a shortage of food for the animals. The Zoo remained closed for two weeks but during the second week after the fighting had ceased, supplies of food could be delivered.
  • In 1986, two giant pandas, Ming Ming and Ping Ping arrived with their keepers at Dublin Zoo on a goodwill visit from China.
  • In 1997, after many years of lobbying, the Government granted an extension of 13 hectares of land around the lake in Áras an Uachtaráin, to the Zoo. The incoming president, Mary McAleese, approved the transfer. The land was designated for African animals and became known as the African Plains.
  • 2007 saw the first birth of an elephant at Dublin Zoo. The calf, named Asha, was born to Asian elephant Bernhardine who had come to Dublin Zoo the previous year from Rotterdam Zoo with her family.
  • The Orangutan Forest opened for the first time in 2016 and was inspired by the tropical rainforests of Borneo, the orangutan’s natural environment. The habitats were fitted with nine artificial trees, some with an internal lift to send food to the top of the structure. Cables were also strung from one side of the habitat to the other, allowing the orangutans to cross over the visitor’s path to the other side.
  • In November 2020, after eight months of a Covid-19 pandemic and several months of forced closure, the Zoo faced financial difficulties and called on the Irish public for support through a ‘Save Dublin Zoo’ fundraising campaign. The response of the Irish people and the Government was phenomenally overwhelming, and several million Euro were raised within just a few days, allowing Dublin Zoo to stay open.

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