Dublin Zoo. Zoo in Dublin, Ireland

Dublin Zoo

Zoo in Dublin, Ireland

Dublin Zoo Photo © Sean MacEntee

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Dublin Zoo

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Located in the heart of Dublin in Phoenix Park, the largest urban park in Europe, Dublin Zoo is the biggest zoo in Ireland. It is also one of the most-visited family attractions in the country, attracting more than one million visitors per year. It was opened in 1831, making it one of the oldest zoos in the world, and has served a purpose of conservation, education, and research ever since.

Dublin Zoo covers 70 acres of gardens, lakes, pathways, and habitats and is home to about 600 animals. Those animals are divided into separate areas, such as the World of Primates, Fringes of the Arctic, Endangered Species, and the World of Cats. The most recent addition to the zoo is the Kaziranga Forest Trail, which provides a habitat for a herd of Asian elephants. Dublin Zoo is so popular that it has its own reality show on TV.

The real star of Dublin Zoo was the lion named Cairbre who became the world-famous mascot of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio.


In 1830, the Royal Zoological Society of Dublin was established, the first step towards a zoo. The zoo, the Zoological Gardens Dublin, was officially opened on September 1, 1831. At the time the zoo covered 15 acres and featured 46 mammals and 72 birds. Those first animals were a donation by London Zoo. It immediately became a popular place. Visitors were now able to see exotic animals that they previously had only heard about or seen in books. Some animals were even completely unknown to most people.

The entrance fee was sixpence per person during those first years, a price that only allowed people of the middle class or higher to visit. However, on Sundays the admission price was lowered to one penny. This made a trip to the zoo an affordable weekend activity for all Dubliners, a feature that definitely added to the zoo’s popularity.

The zoo’s old heritage is being preserved as best as possible. The old timber-framed, thatched entrance lodge, for example, was built in 1833 and has been restored. It is located on the right side of the present-day entrance. Haughton House in the center of the zoo is another example of a historic building that has been renovated.

Major milestones of Dublin Zoo are the open day in 1838 to celebrate the coronation of Queen Victoria which attracted 20,000 people, the arrival of the first giraffe in 1844 and the first lion pair in 1855.

Exhibitions and Animals

There are nine themed areas in Dublin Zoo and a total of approximately 600 animals. The World of Primates is home to a wide variety of monkey and ape species and comprises an area of lakes and islands with climbing frames. Animals that can be seen there are Gibbons, Lemurs, Macaques and many more.

The Reptile House, opened in 1876 and one of the zoo’s oldest exhibitions, houses Crocodiles, Chameleons, Pythons, Lizards, Tortoises and Gila monsters, as well as animals such as Tarantulas.

African Plains is a large area that focuses on Africa. Its main exhibit is the African Savanna, home to Rhinos, Ostriches, Zebras and Giraffes. Other animals in this area are western Lowland Gorillas, African Wild Dogs, Hippos, Lions, Chimpanzees, and Okapis. This exhibition also has its own restaurant and a gift shop.

Another great exhibition is the Fringes of the Arctic. There, visitors can see aquatic and cold-climate animals, such as Sea Lions, Otters, Humboldt Penguins, Grey Wolves and Siberian Tigers.

The other exhibitions in Dublin Zoo are Roberts House, the South American House, the Kaziranga Forest Trail, Family Farm and Asian Forests.

Visiting Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo’s opening times vary throughout the year. However, the zoo always opens at 9.30AM. From March through September it closes at 5PM; closing times range between 3PM and 4.30PM in the other months. The zoo is open 363 days per year; it’s closed on Christmas Day and St. Patrick’s Day.

Tickets cost €17 ($19) for adults, €13 ($15) for seniors and students, €12 ($14) for children between 3 and 16 years old. Family and group tickets are available as well.

How to Get There

Located in Phoenix Park, it is really easy to get to Dublin Zoo. You can get there by bus, train, car or bicycle. Bus lines that stop there are 25, 26, 46A, 66, 66A, 66B, 67 and 69. The nearest Luas line stop is Heuston Station, situated about fifteen minutes from the zoo.

Nearby and Similar Landmarks

Dublin is filled with landmarks: Trinity College Dublin, the Guinness Storehouse, Temple Bar, Kilmainham Gaol and the National Museum of Ireland.

Other major zoos elsewhere in the world include the Bronx Zoo, London Zoo, Dubai Zoo, Shanghai Zoo, San Diego Zoo, Taronga Zoo and Toronto Zoo.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Jan 05, 2015

Pictures of Dublin Zoo

Lion of the Dublin zoo - Dublin Zoo
Lion of the Dublin zoo - Photo by Tambako The Jaguar

The Streets Of Dublin Project Visits Dublin Zoo - Dublin Zoo
The Streets Of Dublin Project Visits Dublin Zoo - Photo by William Murphy

Dublin Zoo - Dublin Zoo
Dublin Zoo - Photo by Sean MacEntee

Dublin Zoo - Dublin Zoo
Dublin Zoo - Photo by Sean MacEntee

Dublin Zoo - Dublin Zoo
Dublin Zoo - Photo by Sean MacEntee

Dublin Zoo - Dublin Zoo
Dublin Zoo - Photo by Ainhoa I.


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