Zoo review – Dublin

Since I’m now based in Dublin for the forseeable future, it was about time I got around to visiting the city’s zoo. It’s actually a new one for me, despite previous visits, so I was eager to see what it was like.

As ever, there’s not much to say since may modern zoos are much of a muchness  (I really am sick of Asian short clawed otters, Sulawesi macaques, Siberian tigers and stick insects – is there any zoo that doesn’t have these?). Still, there were some nice mixed exhibits like the giant African Savannah (with giraffes, ostrich, zebra and scimitar horned oryx together), large numbers of some big animals (6 gorillas, 6 white rhino, 6 indian elephant) which is nice, a few ‘new’ taxa for me (arctic foxes and ) and some good little education bits scattered around the place. Finally pretty much every single exhibit was large and well kept, well suited to the animal and all the animals looked happy (I’ve rarely seen such active sealions or gibbons for example).

On the negative side the signs were few and far between (both on the enclosures and maps) and there were lots of dead end paths and wasted space. In some places it was remarkably difficult to see the animals (beyond good cover which is essential, I mean the enclosures were miles away from the viewing areas for no good reason) and there was a lot of wasted space (three huge lakes with no waterfowl on them but local ducks).

All in all, well worth a visit if you are in the area, but don’t expect much out of the ordinary. The place is a little too full of ‘classics’ (lion, zebra, lemurs, giraffe, crocodile) and rather short on the weird and wonderful that will be of more interest to most reader here I imagine.

9 Responses to “Zoo review – Dublin”


  1. 1 Dave Howlett 01/09/2010 at 7:04 pm

    Neither Chester Zoo nor Edinburgh Zoo – the only two I am familiar with, actually – have Siberian Tigers. Both of these stock Sumatran Tigers instead. Edinburgh also has a breeding pair of Amur Leopards, which is *quite* unusual.

    I recommend Chester, by the way. It does have numerous of the old standbys, but also a few more unusual things – I think it might be the only institution in the UK which holds breeding groups of both Bornean and Sumatran orangutans. Actually, it might be the only one to hold Sumatrans full stop.

    • 2 David Hone 01/09/2010 at 7:39 pm

      Chester is a superb zoo, but not one I have visited in recent years or with a digital camera to hand or it would have appeared here much sooner. I’m kind of doing these as I get to them, but I’m familiar with ltos fo others like Antwep, Berlin, Colchester, London, Whipsnade, Port Lypme, Howlettes, Munich and others. Just not got there of late really.

  2. 3 Mark Robinson 03/09/2010 at 1:03 am

    My local zoo in Perth, Western Australia was half not bad and half awful about 25 years ago with quite a few concrete box cells which housed various big cats and primates. Since then there has been a conscientious effort to improve things.

    They have the standards including the otters and macaques you mentioned, but the tigers are Sumatran as are the orangutans (both involved in successful breeding programs), and I don’t recall seeing any stick insects (although they have a few native spiders and other creepy-crawlies).

    Don’t know how common they are in other zoos but Perth has hyaenas and painted dogs in it’s African savannah area, along with the regular lions, (Rothschild) giraffes, and rhinos et al. I knew they were the second largest terrestrial predator in Africa, but the hyaenas were surprisingly big close up the first time.

    Being in Australia they also have a whole bunch of marsupials, lizards, and snakes – lots of snakes – which, apart from kangaroos (*both* kinds😉, is probably a bit different from what you have in most zoos. The ‘roos and emus are tame enough that you can wander thru their enclosure and pat them.

    • 4 David Hone 03/09/2010 at 4:18 pm

      Well it’s good to know there is variety out there for somewhat jaded visitors like me. WHile i appreciate that Joe Public is always going to be interested in this stuff, being a zoo regular and exotic pet owner means I tend to be a bit bored of seeing leopard geckos, neon tetras and the like in a zoo.

      • 5 Dave Godfrey 04/09/2010 at 4:37 am

        I’ve yet to visit a zoo, or aquarium that keeps Bitterlings (of any species), which is a shame as they’re really rather interesting fish- they’re the ones which brood their young inside freshwater Unionid bivalves.

        However this does mean that my bedroom has one up on these places.

      • 6 Mark Robinson 04/09/2010 at 2:26 pm

        Neon tetras?! That *is* lame. Anything that you can see in a regular pet shop probably shouldn’t be in a zoo unless it’s in the childrens’ pat-the-animals area. I think that the reason why leopard geckos are the gecko of choice is because they are one of the few that have claws instead of… (*looks it up) setae, so they are unable to climb the glass of their terrarium.

        What exotic pet(s) do you have currently? We’re pretty restricted in Australia – most of the native species are protected and require a license to own, and quarantine is very strict so we can’t just import whatever takes our fancy. In the past I have had a native gecko and a huntsman spider (which learnt very quickly to catch flies by hanging from the roof of its terrarium by one leg and using the other seven to stuff the flies into its maw). Not actually that exotic, really.

  3. 7 David Hone 06/09/2010 at 4:27 pm

    Currently I have noting Mark, having jsut moved to Dublin from Beijing. I have kept all kinds of odds and sods over the years though, mantids, cockroaches, millipedes, whip scorpions, scorpions, cave crickets, andn manner of aquatic inverts like crabs and snails and a huge variety of fish up to an including this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyaMeaSH5rY&feature=related

  4. 8 Dave C 10/09/2010 at 3:13 pm

    If you find the time to get up there I recommend Belfast Zoo. I went there with some friends years ago and its worth it just to see their gopher problem, caused by some not quite deep enough walls around the enclosure. Most of the grassy areas around the northern part of the zoo are now full of the blighters!

    If you are ever in the city then by far the best zoo I have ever been to was Prague. I was concerned before going that the standards of welfare would be poor, but was shocked to find the animals better treated and given abundantly more space than any UK zoo I have visited. Here they have a troupe of (fairly standard I know) ring tailed lemurs who seem to have free roam, as well as a very extensive primate collection in general.

    Also for anyone with a herpitoligy interest the Tiergarten in Berlin has a stunning collection of reptiles.

    • 9 David Hone 10/09/2010 at 4:09 pm

      I’ve never even made it as far as Belfast sadly but good to know they have a good place set up. I had a simialr experience to yours in Prague when in Budapest a few years back – overall it was a superb little zoo with much to reccommend it when I had been told it was a third rate write off.

      Berlin’s Tiergarten is indeed superb (and I do love the reptile house / aquarium) and Munich’s zoo is every bit as good.


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