Cuts Force Dublin Zoo to Court Sponsors
Dublin Zoo is looking for corporate sponsors and partners to help fund rebuilding and refurbishment works at its Phoenix Park site following a cut in funding.
Leo Oosterweghel, director of the zoo, which operates as a not-for-profit charity, said it needed private funding to complete infrastructure projects.
"under the current economic circumstances, budgets have been cut and we’re on our own"
The zoo is the country’s number one visitor attraction, with a record 963,053 visitors last year.
‘‘It costs €9 million to run the zoo each year," said Oosterweghel.
‘‘Our income from gate takings, catering and retail sales is about €10 million. We’re delighted that it’s a successful, viable business, particularly during the current recession. However, every surplus penny is pumped back into redeveloping and improving the animal sanctuary."
One of the oldest zoos in the world, Dublin Zoo survived the Famine, the 1916 Rising and two World Wars, but nearly closed in the early 1980s until government funding was secured.
‘‘We’re very grateful for the grants we’ve received from the Office of Public Works for capital works," said Oosterweghel.
‘‘They’ve helped us redesign and improve the zoo, including the elephant enclosure that opened in 2009, and helped fund the €3 million gorilla rainforest, which will officially open at the end of September. ‘‘However, under the current economic circumstances, budgets have been cut and we’re on our own."
We have a series of exciting projects planned for the future; we’re importing a bull elephant next year to expand the herd and we have a project planned for the rare Asiatic lion."
Oosterweghel said that visitor numbers so far this year were on a par with last year’s figures, which he attributed to families opting to holiday at home and visit Irish attractions.
There has also been a baby boom at the zoo, with arrivals including a giraffe calf, a new baby gorilla, Kituba, and a number of new mangabey and macaque monkeys.
(source: Sunday Business Post)