Phoenix Park

A history

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Dublin Zoo was established in 1830 when the Lord Lieutenant granted the Zoological Society use of a portion of Phoenix Park for the purpose of creating a menagerie.

The area for the Zoo was three and a half acres in extent with about four acres of water on its boundary. The architect to London Zoo, Decimus Burton prepared plans for Phoenix Park for a fee of £75. His plan called for enclosing part of the neighbouring lake and the expansion into some of the adjacent land. However, the plan was beyond the financial capacity of the society to implement, and was used as a guide for later development.

In 1841 an admission price of a penny was introduced and more than 81,000 people each spent a penny in that year for entrance to the zoo.

lion In 1844, the zoo received its first giraffe and in 1855 it bought its first pair of lions.

These bred for the first time in 1857. Dublin Zoo has had some success with the breeding of lions. In fact, from 1857 to 1965, some 593 cubs were born in Dublin Zoo, more than in any other Zoo in the world.

Reptiles got their own house in 1876 and the first tearooms for humans were built in 1898.

There is a point of view, often forcefully expressed, that animals should not be restrained in a zoo at all but should be allowed live their span of life in their natural habitat. However, many zoos have become centres for conservation, education and study.

zoo toysDublin Zoo holds the European studbooks for species including the Moluccan cockatoo and the golden lion tamarin. The Zoo also sponsors field research to study a group of tamarins that have been released back into protected habitats.

The zoo’s lakes provide a refuge for wildfowl, and in winter, more than 500 wildfowl have been seen at close quarters from the public paths that overlook the lakes.

By now, Dublin Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the world.

In 1994, the Minister for Finance, Bertie Ahearn TD approved a massive £15 million (€19m) ten-year plan for the zoo.

The African Plains opened on 1 June 2000. The new area allows animals of African origin to roam somewhat more freely, though humans are protected from the animals by fencing.

In 2005, two ageing female Asian elephants named Judy and Kirsty, were moved to Neunkirchen Zoo in Germany, leaving Dublin Zoo without an elephant to its name.
A new elephant facility was designed to be 50 per cent larger than the older house and to incorporate a riverbed and a large pool for new elephants which would include two pregnant female adults and a bull elephant to continue a breeding programme.

book jacket For more detail read

The comprehensive book on Dublin's own national park.

In the shops now

ISBN 1-904148-78-6
or order online here
"Just the thing to get you in the mood for the Rolling Stones concert in August."
The Irish Times


Copies of Phoenix Park a history and guidebook are a welcome addition to your corporate or conference goodybags.

Brendan Nolan has reported on Phoenix Park as a freelance journalist for several decades and was a professional observer at many of the events of the late 20th century related herein.

He was born in Chapelizod in a house beside the churchyard of Le Fanu and counted Phoenix Park as his personal rambling ground through his growing years and beyond.

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book jacket

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