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Dr Christoph Schwitzer, Director of Dublin Zoo and Malcolm Noonan TD outside the new National Centre for Species Survival. PATRICK BOLGER

National Centre for Species Survival opens in Dublin Zoo with goal of conserving native animals

It comes as more than 90% of Irish species’ habitats have an ‘unfavourable conservation status’.

A NATIONAL CENTRE for species survival has opened in Dublin Zoo today, with the goal of conserving native Irish species.

The centre, which is located in the newly renovated Society House, is a collaboration between Dublin Zoo and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

It comes as more than 90% of Irish species’ habitats have an ‘unfavourable conservation status’.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Andrew Mooney, the zoo’s Conservation and Research Officer, said: “Now is the time to double down and invest in Irish species conservation efforts.

“A lot of people don’t realise that Ireland is actually a really biodiverse country with over 31,000 species, but a lot of our species and our habitats have an unfavourable conservation status.”

The historic Society House, built in 1867, was once home to the zoo’s superintendent and subsequently became a meeting place for the Royal Zoological Society. In the 1950s, superintendent Terry Murphy successfully hand-reared two tiger cubs there.

The building has been renovated into office space by the Office of Public Works (OPW) to facilitate the new centre.

At the reopening of Society House today, Malcolm Noonan TD, Minister of State for Nature and Heritage welcomed the revamp.

“It’s wonderful to see such an historic building be reimagined in a way that looks to the future,” he said.

“The conservation of Irish species is vital and the work that will be done in the National Centre for Species Survival will play a major role in preserving our natural heritage.”

The Centre for Species Survival is one of 18 around the world, with sister centres in the United States, South America and the United Kingdom.

Director of Dublin Zoo, Dr Christoph Schwitzer said: “This opening is a very important move towards achieving a key objective of Dublin Zoo’s ten year vision ‘to save wildlife in Ireland and globally’.

“Dublin Zoo’s goal is to become a national focal point for species conservation status assessment and planning, influencing policy development globally to create a world where people live in harmony with nature.”

REPRO_FREE_DUBLIN_ZOO_05 Malcolm Noonan TD and Dr Christoph Schwitzer, Director of Dublin Zoo, inside the new National Centre for Species Survival at Society House Patrick Bolger Patrick Bolger

Between heat waves and rain storms, Ireland is experiencing increasingly extreme weather conditions.

However, Schwitzer said that it is still more temperate here than on the continent, making it appropriate for zoo animals.

“If it gets hotter we will have to make contingency plans. My colleagues on the continent are seeing that more and more now. Luckily, Ireland seems to be a bit outside of that,” he said.

“There are sometimes extreme weather events but none of them really extreme enough to provide any issues for animals.

“It’s mostly really making sure that nothing comes down from trees … when it rains consistently for months and then suddenly you have high winds.”

There are tree surgeons that are tasked with monitoring and trimming the trees when necessary, as that.

When rainfall is heavy, the animals are let into their shelters early, which isn’t ideal for visitors, Schwitzer said.

“Our visitors are very understanding and most of the animals can also be seen in their quarters. It is not usually a problem.”

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