The food spend is revealed in new accounts for the two attractions that show 2013 was a bumper year for the zoo and wildlife park, with combined revenues jumping by €375,000 to top €16.1m.
The 2.5% increase in revenues contributed to the surplus at the Zoological Society of Ireland, which operates the two attractions, increasing by 4% to €2.26m.
The accounts show that Fota Wildlife Park “had a great year in terms of visitor numbers with 365,396 visitors”.
According to a spokesman for Dublin Zoo, 2013 was a bumper year for Ireland’s most popular family attraction and “2014 is on track to be our best ever year for visitor numbers”.
Leo Oosterweghel, a director at Dublin Zoo, said: “The recent baby boom has helped to attract visitors, with new births in the past few months including two Rothschild giraffe, a Goeldi’s monkey, and two Asian lion cubs. The arrival of three Asian elephant calves was the absolute pinnacle.”
Visitor numbers to the zoo last year topped 1m — the third year in a row that numbers have surpassed that mark.
A spokesman said: “Over the years, Dublin Zoo, a not-for-profit organisation, has reinvested its surplus in new and exciting habitats continuously improving the zoo.
”Dublin Zoo has witnessed a decade of infrastructural development and is always working to improve to ensure the very best conditions for its animals.”
The jump in revenues coincided with the spend on food for the animals last year increasing from €613,000 to €801,000.
The spokesman said that €563,000 of the overall spend relates to Dublin Zoo, with 41% or €231,000 spent on brouse, made up of branches, bark, and leaves, along with hay and straw; and €169,000 spent on pellets and supplements. Some €90,000 was spent on fruit and veg and €73,000 went on meat and fish.
The spokesman said the zoo’s Asian lions are fed four times a week and receive 8kg to 10kg of meat on the bone. He said: “We mimic their feeding patterns in the wild, which includes starve days.”
He said that the perception of gorillas eating bananas all day is wrong and they are mainly fed on a variety of vegetables including turnips, carrots, boiled potatoes, leeks, and celery.
The zoo’s Asian elephants are fed hay, branches with leaves and bark of silver birch, and willow, along with some horse pellets. Chilean flamingos are fed special pellets that mimic their diet in the wild.
The zoo and wildlife park last year spent €283,000 on veterinary expenses while security costs last year topped €247,000.