Dublin Zoo has warned politicians to check their facts before making privileged statements in the Dáil.
It comes after People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy told the Dáil that a hot tub and sauna were installed at the Zoo Director’s on-site living lodge at a time when it was “begging for funds to keep animals fed”.
Speaking under Dáil privilege, he said the work on the lodge, carried out in 2020 to 2021, also included an extension and garden landscaping.
'Save Dublin Zoo'
It said it was facing costs of €500,000 a month to care for its animals, even when the doors were shut.
In response, then-Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Government would offer bailouts to both Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park in Cork.
The zoo took in over €500,000 in donations on the first morning of the campaign alone.
Speaking in the Dáil yesterday Deputy Murphy said it was “not clear” where the funds for the ‘luxury’ renovations on the Zoo Director’s lodge came from.
In a statement, however, the zoo said it “categorically refutes the unfounded assertations and allegations made in the Oireachtas”.
It said the renovations were paid for by the zoo’s “own revenue generated in 2021 when Covid restrictions had eased”.
Meanwhile, it said the hot tub and sauna were private purchases paid for by the Zoo Director, adding “absolutely no Dublin Zoo funds were used to purchase these”.
The zoo insisted that the funds generated through its ‘Save Dublin Zoo’ campaign were exclusively used for animal welfare and went towards food, heat and veterinary bills.
It noted that information on how it spends its annual revenue and the specific funds that came in through the campaign are publicly available in its annual receipts.
“Dublin Zoo is more than happy to engage with political representatives regarding any concerns they may have and we respectfully request political representatives contact Dublin Zoo directly to fact-check their information before making privileged comments in the Oireachtas,” the zoo said.
“We urge them to exercise due diligence in fact-checking before making inaccurate statements in a public forum.”
The zoo also refuted Deputy Murphy’s claims that serious allegations about the mistreatment of animals and staff had yet to be independently investigated.