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'It feels like Christmas': Dublin Zoo reopens with families excited to 'have a new experience'

The zoo opened with reduced capacity at 9.30am.

LAST UPDATE | 26 Apr 2021

7653 Dublin Zoo Daniel Meagher aged 2 with his aunty Nicole Meagher from Blanchardstown at Dublin Zoo today Sasko Lazarov Sasko Lazarov

“IT FEELS A bit like Christmas,” zookeeper Brendan Walsh told The Journal just an hour after Dublin Zoo reopened its doors to the public this morning. 

From 9am, families, friends and individuals began to queue outside the zoo in anticipation for the reopening of the amenity this morning. 

Speaking to The Journal as they waited to enter, parents of young children expressed their excitement to break up the usual routine and bring their families to see the animals, some for the first time.

The zoo opened its doors with reduced capacity at 9.30am. Tickets went on sale last week, to high demand. They are only available online and not at the gate of the zoo. 

Inside the zoo, a one-way system is in place along with hand sanitising stations and signs reminding people about social distancing and hygiene.

The Journal caught up with zookeeper Brendan Walsh near the sea lion cove, where he said he is “genuinely delighted” the zoo has reopened to the public.

“It feels a bit like Christmas,” he said.

“It’s just that buzz of having the place feel back the way it used to be. I’ve genuinely missed visitors, talking to them about the animals and even just giving them directions and things like that.

It’s nice to have that aspect to zoo life again and especially on a sunny day like this it does feel great.

Parents Gus and Eva and their young child were amongst the first families in the queue for the zoo this morning. 

Speaking to The Journal, they said their son has been to the zoo once, but he’s now at “the perfect age where he can walk and he knows the names” of the various animals. 

Eva said they were looking forward to “being able to have a new experience”.

7438 Animals Zoo A tiger on the grass at Dublin Zoo this morning Sasko Lazarov Sasko Lazarov

Further down the queue, Martin and Clodagh said they were visiting the zoo to celebrate their daughter’s third birthday, which was “fortuitous” to fall today. 

They said they accidentally booked tickets for today and Wednesday after the zoo’s website crashed when booking last week.

“We have three kids under five, so if it goes wrong at least we have a backup day,” Clodagh said. 

One of their children said she was mostly looking forward to seeing the hippos and the monkeys. 

Also waiting in the queue ahead of the 9.30am opening, Ailbhe and Keith said they were visiting today with their son Aidan who is turning two on Wednesday. 

Ailbhe said they were “quite happy” to get tickets today as they had previously booked the week off work. 

Keith said Aidan is “still in creche so he still has things to do there”, but their free time before now has consisted of “a lot of playgrounds, and all that”. 

Aidan is excited to see the lions and the monkeys. 

7397 Taoiseach Zoo Taoiseach Micheál Martin visited to zoo early this morning to mark its reopening to the public Sasko Lazarov Sasko Lazarov

Kerry Flanagan and Garreth were there with their son Oisin who is two. They were looking forward to breaking up their routines after weeks of lockdown. 

“You just have to get a bit more original, don’t you? We’ve gone on lots of walks and know our local area very well,” Kerry said. 

With reporting by Orla Dwyer 

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