Dublin Zoo: In the Clear… for Now

On Tuesday the 17 of November 2020, many of us unaware, lived through the day which was the one year marker of the start of the corona virus. The virus which, throughout the year has managed to create havoc on lives both at home and around the globe. It has brought stress and grief to our lives, our livelihoods but also has impacted our businesses and institutions. Just one day after this marker, the world received news of the possible closure of one of Ireland’s main tourist and family attraction; Dublin Zoo.

Located in Phoenix Park Dublin, the zoo originally opened its doors in 1831 and by 1840 it had a total of 46 mammal’s and 72 birds. Now, 180 years later Dublin zoo is home to almost 400 exotic and endangered animals and boasted almost 1 million visitors a year, making it Irelands number one site for not only educational purposes, but also a tourist and family friendly attraction.

The zoo which has been closed for a total of five months due to the two lockdowns, made its statement on Wednesday November 18th, announcing that without financial support they would possibly have to close for good. They released a fundraising campaign in which they asked the public for donations and their appeal which was posted on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, went almost viral, attracting numerous shares and a lot of attention. Donations could be made on their website, but also as part of a text scheme.

Due to the nations love for a seemingly national treasure and the unwillingness to let another crucial business be lost to the virus, the people and their government including Taoiseach Michael Martin pledged support and donated in their thousands. Twelve hours after their initial plea for support, the Zoo had received over a million euros in donations and then within two days the Zoo had received two million in funding. On Friday November 20th, The Zoo posted on their Twitter account; “Thanks to your incredible support we have now reached an epic milestone of €2,000,000. In two short days you have made our year…”.

If this had all happened when I was 7, I too would have put up a fight. I probably would have cried a lot and demanded something to be done. This was because as a child I spent so many summers in Dublin Zoo; wandering around the African plains with tired feet but the joy of there being a playground every ten minutes. Sticky hands pawing at the glass in an attempt to be as close as I could to the animals on the other side. The excitement of hearing the lions roar from the other side of the fence and watching the seal shows.

 It wasn’t only a place to see exotic animals, but it was an experience from the first foot set inside and then at the end of the day when it was time to go, you’d have a look in the zoo shop for a bit longer than was ever expected, and with tired feet and a brain full of wonder you head home, looking forward to your next trip the next summer. For me, Dublin zoo was the only opportunity I had, as a child to see any of these rare and amazing animals. Had I never been to the zoo, I would have never seen a giraffe or even a Bongo in my whole life, and even though it was a fence and glass that separated us, I felt connected and I had a sense of care for the animals

It has been a scary time for everyone and I believe that Dublin Zoo was the last straw for a lot of people in Ireland. They are passionate about what they want and when the time comes they will come together when they have to. Can you blame them?

Because of the donations made to the zoo, it is now expected the zoo will be able to run until at least spring 2021. On one hand the child inside of me is jumping with joy, as I still have that childish fondness for the zoo and an ever ranging curiosity. However on the other hand I am cynical. It baffles me that so much money can be raised in less than a week, by both public and government donations for the zoo.  But what about the homeless? Where are their funds? Food for thought.

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