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Dublin: 7 °C Friday 24 January, 2020
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Seven wolves have been released into their 'large and stimulating' new home at Dublin Zoo

The pack’s new 4,000 square metre space includes a water feature and three visitor shelters.

REPRO_FREE_DUBLINZOO_WOLVES_11 Source: Patrick Bolger

DUBLIN ZOO’S WOLVES have a new home.

The state-of-the-art ‘Wolves in the Woods’ enclosure – which has been under construction in the old ‘lower’ section of the zoo over recent months – is now open for viewing. 

The zoo’s seven grey wolves had been housed in an enclosure next to the lions, near the entrance to the Phoenix Park attraction. The new habitat – designed, according to Dublin Zoo, to provide a “large and stimulating” space for the animals – is over near the sea lions and the flamingos. 

The 4,000 square metre space includes a water feature and three observation shelters where visitors can watch the wolves.

“Every detail of the habitat has been considered carefully with the wellness of the wolf pack in mind and the design was inspired by their natural habitat,” zoo director Leo Oosterweghel said.

REPRO_FREE_DUBLINZOO_WOLVES_01 Source: Patrick Bolger

Ciaran McMahon, team leader at the zoo, said the animals were settling in well:

I am delighted to say that the wolf pack have adapted to their new habitat very quickly. They are very comfortable and confident in their new surroundings.

Wolves were once common in Ireland, but were hunted to extinction in the 17th and 18th centuries. 

Customs records show that up to 300 wolf pelts a year were exported from Ireland to the port of Bristol throughout the 1500s, but according to research by UCC geographer Dr Kieran Hickey, the island of Ireland still had a sustainable population of up to 1,000 wolves right up to the 1660s. 

Wolf numbers increased again in the wake of the Cromwellian wars and wolf-hunters were appointed at various locations. Before long, bounties of £5 and £6 were placed on the animals’ heads – and a rapid, final decline soon followed.

REPRO_FREE_DUBLINZOO_WOLVES_05 Source: Patrick Bolger

Despite having held on in Ireland for hundreds of years after becoming extinct in England and Wales, the last native Irish wolf was hunted down and killed in the late 1700s – most likely at Mount Leinster on the Carlow-Wexford border. 

Some wildlife activists are campaigning for a reintroduction scheme to be considered – along the lines of a successful one carried out in Yellowstone in the US from the 1990s. 

We explored the issue in a recent episode of our Ireland 2029 podcast – you can listen below… 


Source: Ireland 2029/SoundCloud

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About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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