Located in Phoenix Park just past People’s Garden, Dublin Zoo holds the distinction of being the third oldest public zoo in the world. Only those in London and Paris have been in existence longer.
How much time will I need to spend at Dublin Zoo?
If you want to see visit most of the zoo's various zones, you should give yourself at least three hours. Add another half-hour if you want to have lunch, visit the gift shops, or let your kids play in the playground areas.
How big is Dublin Zoo?
The zoo measures 59 acres. By way of a comparison, it is almost twice the size of London zoo (36 acres), but less than a quarter the size of New York's Bronx zoo (265 acres).
What kinds of animals will I see there?
Dublin zoo contains more than 235 species of wild animals and tropical birds, with an overall population of over 700 animals. The zoo is organised into various zones and houses that match the habitats of the animals. Below are just some of the animals you will see in the various zones.
Turn left after the entrance, taking a clockwise loop around the zoo, and you will first enter the Asian forest area, which has some of the zoo's biggest attractions.
- Asian lions
- Sumatran tigers
- Crested macaques (black apes)
- Snow leopards
- Spider monkeys
Fringes of the Arctic
Next up if you walk straight on is an icy world created for the zoo's arctic creatures.
- Humboldt penguins
- Californian sea lions
One of the biggest sections of the zoo, this section takes about 25 minutes to walk around. You can bypass this and loop back to the Kaziranga Forest Trail if you are short on time.
- Hunting dogs
Gorilla Rainforest and Chimpanzee Island
Just past the African Savannah, two individual island areas have been created especially for primates. The gorilla rainforest has been designed to imitate the environment found on the Guinean coast of Africa.
- African lowland gorillas
Kaziranga Forest Trail
Continue walking around the zoo in a clockwise loop, the next attraction you will come to is this forest trail, which recreates the Asian rainforest habitat.
- Asian elephants
Next up, this indoor attraction contains cold blooded creatures and creepy crawlies.
- Giant lizards
- Gila monsters
- Nile crocodiles
- Various snakes
Close by the reptile house is a victorian bird-house, located next to the family farm, containing beautiful and endangered species.
- Rodrigues fruit bats
- Victoria Crowned Pigeons
- Other rare and exotic birds
South American House
Home to various creatures from the South American rainforests, which need a controlled environment.
- Rare monkeys
- Pygmy marmosets
- Two-toed sloth
- Central American wood turtles
- Military Macaws
Located near the entrance/exit, the zoo also has a petting farm, where visitors can interact with farm animals
- Other animals
Other animals that you can see if you walk the full tour of the zoo include
- Red panda
- Ring-tailed lemur
- Grey wolf
- Chilean flamingo
Dublin Zoo has got a free and innovative play area for children (mainly kids aged from 3 to 10). Named Play Forest, it is strategically located across the lake from the main entrance, just past the main Asian Forest attractions -- or about a 10 minute walk if you weren't stopping to look at the animals. The play area includes fun wooden climbing structures and a giant slide.
Where to Eat and Drink
You can take your own food with you, and take advantage of numerous picnic areas scattered throughout the zoo. Alternatively, the Meerkat Restaurant, located next to the entrance / exit, has a wide and varied menu. During summer, when the zoo's visitor numbers tend to swell (particularly at weekends and on holidays) there are a few kiosks at various points the zoo. These serve light refreshments such as teas, coffees, sandwiches, and ice cream.
Dublin zoo was founded in 1830 with only one wild boar in residence. The zoo is noted for its lion breeding program, and since the 1850’s, more than 700 lions have been bred here --- no small feat, since lions have been bred successfully in captivity in very few locations worldwide. The most famous past resident is probably the MGM trademark lion. Named Slats, he was filmed for the opening sequence that preceded all films from the then newly formed MGM studio, and first appeared on screens in 1924. Legend has it that his famous roar was in fact a yawn, and the voice of an American lion was dubbed in to created the ferocious roar. At various times in its history, the zoo has had to take drastic measures to survive. During the Easter Rising of 1916, when rebels fought the British crown forces, access to the zoo became difficult, and staff had to resort to feeding smaller animals to the lions and tigers to keep them alive. During the second world war, when rationing of food was policy in Ireland, food for the animals again became scarce. This time it was public generosity that kept them alive. The zoo underwent massive renovations in 2006 and today is one of Ireland's top visitor attractions, with over 1 million visitors each year.
Primate at Dublin Zoo. Image: stevehorgan