IT IS one of world's most popular zoos, attracting thousands of people every day.
And now, Dublin Zoo can count one of the world's most famous stars as a fan after singer Jennifer Lopez (43) gave the historic venue rave reviews following her visit last Friday.
The Latino star took time out ahead of her Dublin concert in the O2 as she treated her three-year-old twins Emme and Max to a family day out, along with boyfriend Casper Smart (26), and her mother Guadalupe.
And the global star was more than happy to slum it with the rest of us -- she and her family enjoyed pizza in the zoo restaurant, sitting alongside unsuspecting members of the public who seemingly had no idea that a superstar was in their midst.
J-Lo had originally planned to spend an hour at the city centre attraction - but she ended up spending three hours as staff gave her a special tour.
She was fascinated by the zoo's history, operations manager Gerry Creighton told the Herald.
"The kids were having a ball and wanted to stay longer," said Gerry who described the day as a "wonderful experience".
And it seems the A-lister can live with the Irish weather -- when the skies briefly opened during her visit, she was nonplussed, advising her party to "keep going" and it was "only rain".
The singer fed some giraffes in the African Plains, asking about animal conservation as she held buckets of food.
"She really wanted to know about the animals and was really complimentary of the zoo, describing it as beautiful and natural," said Gerry.
Gerry was invited in to the family's car by J-Lo as they journeyed around the animal compound and the singer and actress inquired about Gerry's job as a zookeeper.
The former American Idol judge was amazed to learn that the zoo's history extends as far back as 1831 and the Wedding Planner actress and her mother posed for photographs in front of the zoo's historic gates.
The family were the picture of understated normality according to Gerry, who described how J-Lo's new toyboy boyfriend Casper was full of chat.
"They were a regular family, two sweet kids and her mother was wonderful, really down-to-earth", said Gerry who described how the Lopez family matriarch was a "bundle of fun" and told him that she had many Irish friends.
Before embarking on the tour, the family started their day out in the zoo restaurant, where the children enjoyed pizza, chicken nuggets and fries washed down with slush puppies and ice cream.
The family did not demand a private area in the busy restaurant and were happy to sit among the general public, where J-Lo enjoyed her own treat of pepperoni pizza.
Staff said she's welcome to visit again.
Anna Nolan, page 27