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Publin gives €1m in 24 hours to save Dublin Zoo from going bust

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Matthew McClelland from Castleknock enjoying a trip to Dublin Zoo earlier this summer.

Matthew McClelland from Castleknock enjoying a trip to Dublin Zoo earlier this summer.

Matthew McClelland from Castleknock enjoying a trip to Dublin Zoo earlier this summer.

Dublin Zoo has issued a heartfelt thanks to the public after more than €1m was raised in less than 24 hours to support the running of the attraction.

It came after the zoo issued a public appeal for financial support to save it from closure.

Zoo bosses had warned they were running out of money to pay the €500,000 a month it costs to feed and care for animals.

After the public weighed in to help, Dublin Zoo operations manager Gerry Creighton thanked donors for the outpouring of support.

"We've just received word that we have passed over half-a-million euro," he said yesterday. But by last night that figure had surpassed €1m.

"Thank you so much," Mr Creighton added, urging the public to continue to support them.

"We need so much more. We are so grateful. From all the team at Dublin Zoo, thank you," he said.

The Government confirmed yesterday it is considering a financial support package for Dublin Zoo over fears the visitor attraction would be forced to close its gates due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Christoph Schwitzer, director of the zoo, said the enforced closure due to Covid-19 and then reduced visitor numbers when it was allowed to reopen have left it in "serious financial difficulty".

Discussions are also being held in Government about how to support the cash-strapped venue.

A senior source confirmed the Government wants to help the zoo and is considering the best approach to take.

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The zoo’s old entrance

The zoo’s old entrance

The zoo’s old entrance

In the Dáil, Taoiseach Micheál Martin promised to act to ensure Dublin Zoo stays open so it's available "for generations to come".

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Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the zoo's closure would be "devastating" for local employment and tourism.

"The zoo is one of our key tourist attractions - not to mention the very special place that Dublin Zoo occupies for children and families for generations right across the island," she added.

She suggested that a €500,000 fund for zoos is not enough and she appealed to Mr Martin to intervene.

Ms McDonald said the zoo doesn't rely on public monies "but it needs help now".

Mr Martin said "the Government does not want Dublin Zoo to close" and it will "do everything we possibly can" to ensure it stays open.

"I'm working with the minister to make sure that happens," he added.

He noted that one of his predecessors, Bertie Ahern, "to give him his due" was involved in a very significant investment in the zoo when he was taoiseach.

Mr Martin said it has been some time since the zoo benefited from State capital funding.

"In my view given the extraordinary circumstances of a global pandemic - a 100-year event - Government has to intervene here and work with Dublin Zoo to make sure that it is available for generations to come," he said.

"I intend to act on that."

Later he said the Government was also engaging with Cork's Fota Wildlife Park in its efforts to support the sector.

Dublin Zoo is currently closed to the public due to coronavirus regulations but the care team is still providing care to more than 400 animals.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar also asked the Office of Public Works to offer financial assistance to the Zoo in September.

"The Tánaiste asked the OPW to consider favourably submissions from Dublin Zoo regarding their financial difficulties arising from Covid-19, and whether it would be possible to provide financial assistance as had happened on previous occasions," Mr Varadkar's spokesperson said.

"This followed a meeting between the Tánaiste and the Director of Dublin Zoo," he said.

"The chairman of the OPW, Maurice Buckley, discussed the financial difficulties faced by Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park with Dublin Zoo's director, Dr Christoph Schwitzer, in October and November," the spokesperson added.


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