Dublin Zoo has today unveiled its first adult bull elephant in 100 years.
Upali is 17 years old and measures three metres tall and weighs more than 6,000 kilos.
The Asian bull elephant arrived from Chester Zoo on Thursday night as part of the international breeding programme, and will live at Dublin Zoo for the next 15 to 20 years with four females.
Preparation for Upali’s arrival began last September when construction of the bull elephant house commenced.
The purpose-built structure, which was designed and project managed by the Office of Public Works (OPW), is 200 square metres with a glass ceiling, radiant heating and 1.5 metre deep sand for the elephant to stand on.
Speaking at the ceremony Leo Oosterweghel, director at Dublin Zoo, said: “Upali’s arrival is a hugely significant occasion for us as part of the international breeding programme.
“We are especially pleased to have Minster Brian Hayes with us today to celebrate the arrival of Upali and opening of the Bull Elephant House. We are also very grateful to the Government and the OPW for the funding and technical support they have provided over the past 18 years.
“Without the commitment from the Government we could not have transformed Dublin Zoo into Ireland’s number-one family attraction with over one million visitors per annum.”
Brian Hayes TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW), stated that: “I am delighted to be here today to welcome the arrival of Upali and also the opening of the new Bull Elephant House.
“My office, the OPW, have worked closely with the Zoo over many years and the result of this collaboration is evident throughout the Zoo and its many new developments. I congratulate Dublin Zoo on becoming one of both my own personal and indeed the nation's favourite visitor attractions.”