Zoo has one million reasons to celebrate

DUBLIN Zoo is celebrating a bumper year with a record one million visitors in 2011.

The zoo also welcomed 42 new arrivals in the last 12 months, including two baby gorillas, hippo and giraffe calves, and two red panda cubs.

Attendance jumped by 36,947, up from the previous record of 963,053 in 2010.

Dublin Zoo director Leo Oosterweghel said he was thrilled so many people helped them achieve the incredible milestone despite closing during the peak season visits of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and US President Barack Obama.

“I am delighted to be able to say for the second year in a row that the zoo is more popular than ever before.

“Our wonderful success can be attributed to the dedication and hard work of the team at Dublin Zoo, who continuously strive to enhance the habitats and care of all the animals in the zoo while at the same time ensuring that visitors have an unforgettable experience.

“I am extremely proud to be in a position to say that, after a decade of continuous development, Dublin Zoo is now amongst the best zoos in the world and is Ireland’s top visitor attraction.”

Mr Oosterweghel said that, over the past two decades, the 180-year-old zoo has transformed into a world-class centre of learning about wildlife and conservation which immerses visitors in an unforgettable experience.

“Since the early 1990s, Dublin Zoo has more than doubled in size and many of our animals have wonderful new living conditions.

“The zoo has become an integral part of more and more European breeding programmes for endangered species.

“After years of development and improvement, Dublin Zoo is now positioned to provide a top-class visitor experience and a home to our wonderful animals for many years to come.”

Elsewhere, Tourism Ireland unveiled an ambitious new strategic plan to increase visitor numbers from France, Ireland’s fourth largest overseas market.

About 344,000 French visitors travelled to Ireland in 2010, delivering €177m in revenue.

Programmes include attracting young active sightseers, young city break culture seekers, mid-age sightseers, repeat visitors and visitors to the North.

Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar said: “France is a priority tourism market for Ireland, and it’s great to see this new research showing that we can increase the number of French holidaymakers by up to 40% by 2014.

“The recent tourism figures showed an increase of almost 10% in visitors from mainland Europe this year, and we are determined to build on this growth in2012.

“France is one of the four tourism markets which together deliver 75% of all our overseas visitors.”

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