Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

20.03 18 Nov 2020


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Dublin Zoo is as important to the Government as museums and other cultural institutions, a junior minister has said.

Patrick O'Donovan says they won't allow a situation where either the zoo or Fota Wildlife Park would close.

It comes after the Taoiseach confirmed the Government will step in to provide the zoo with the help they need.

Micheál Martin's announcement came just hours after the zoo launched a fundraising campaign to raise the funds necessary to 'save the zoo' from closure.

The zoo this evening confirmed it has already raised €1,000,000 from their fundraising drive, only hours after launching it.

Zoo management earlier warned that without visitors they were continuing to use up their cash reserves, and that they only had enough funds to last them until spring.

Speaking on The Hard Shoulder, Patrick O’Donovan - minister of State with responsibility for Office of Public Works - said officials have been in talks with the zoo since October to see what the Government could "bring to the table".

He said: "I think across the political spectrum there's widespread support for what Dublin Zoo do. It's now a case of trying to hammer out the details of what we will do.

"They have capital needs, in terms of the welfare they need to provide for their animals... in terms of housing and things like that. They also have current costs they're going to be meeting out of their available cash reserves, not to mention what they've been fundraising.

"In terms of negotiations and what we're going to be able to bring to the zoo, we'll hopefully be able to finalise that in the coming days or week and make an announcement shortly."

Minister O'Donovan said the zoo is important not just for visitors, but also for their conservation and breeding work.

He said: "The Government want it to be laid on the line that we're not going to envisage a situation where either would close.

"They're important institutions - as important to us as museums, cultural institutions and others."

He dismissed any suggestion that zoo authorities were disingenuous in launching a fundraising campaigning, saying he believes it's very important the public has a stake as well through donations.

He stressed that the Government doesn't have a bottomless pit of cash, but that he hopes the zoo will be able to go back to 'record attendance' levels in 2021 and beyond.

Main image: File photo of Dublin Zoo. Picture by: Brian Lawless/PA Archive/PA Images

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