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Sunday 4 December 2016

Zookeeper Ciaran gears up for festive monkey business

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Zookeeper Ciaran McMahon Photo: Patrick Bolger
Zookeeper Ciaran McMahon Photo: Patrick Bolger

Zookeeper Ciaran McMahon will be foregoing turkey and ham to spend time with the lions and monkeys on Christmas Day this year.

Ciaran said that working at Dublin Zoo on December 25 was something of a tradition.

"I love coming in on Christmas Day, there's always a great atmosphere, it's a great team," he said.

"It's great because you have the zoo to yourself. It's like our private visit.

"You are dealing with livestock, so you just have to be there," he added.

Tigers Dad-of-three Ciaran (50) said that while the animals themselves don't notice any difference, the staff try to give them an extra treat to mark the occasion.

"We might give them an extra bit of fruit," he said.

Ciaran has been working at the zoo since 1995 and said he wouldn't change his job for the world.

"I started on the horticultural team when I was 29. It was a big career move. I was working at Stena Sealink. It was always something I wanted to do, to work at the zoo," he said. "I'm now a team leader of the west side section of the zoo. It was a great education and now I have a job in a million."

Ciaran lives in Crumlin with his wife Ruth and three children Lauren (19), Craig (14) and Rebecca (11).

One of the standout moments at the zoo was Christmas Day in 2010, the year of the big snow.

"It was absolutely beautiful, the zoo looked stunning. We had recorded temperatures of -17 degrees here. The beauty of the place was incredible, it was untouched, up to 18 inches in parts.

"The tigers and lions enjoyed the novelty of it all. To see the snow leopards was incredible - they were built for it."

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