Record number of visitors to zoo

More than 1m people visited Dublin Zoo last year — an all-time high for the attraction.

Confirming it as the most popular family day-out in Ireland, figures show 1,029,417 visitors poured through the gates during 2012 to see animals from around the globe.

Leo Oosterweghel, director of the zoo, said years of development had ensured it was now one of the best zoos in the world.

“Reaching 1m [visitors] in 2011 was fantastic but to do it again and add to that number is phenomenal,” he said.

More than 95% of the people who visit Dublin Zoo are from Ireland, according to a profile survey.

“The zoo belongs to the Irish people who have a great pride in such a world-class facility and we share our success with the generations who continue to support us,” said Mr Oosterweghel.

Last year at the zoo saw the opening of the Asian Forest, baby gorilla Kituba’s first birthday, and many new arrivals, including a rare Eastern bongo calf, a tapir calf, two red panda cubs, two meerkat pups, and a sea lion pup.

Two young Asian lionesses and a bull elephant, Upali, were also added to the collection.

The arrival of Upali, who is expected to mate with the female elephants, is part of a plan to double the size of the elephant herd over the coming years.

Also last year, superstar Jennifer Lopez turned up for a day out at the Phoenix Park attraction with her family in October.

“Over the past two decades Dublin Zoo has transformed into a world-class centre of learning about wildlife and conservation,” said Mr Oosterweghel.

“It is also an integral part of more and more European breeding programmes for endangered species.”

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