A RARE big-eared Eastern bongo calf, two small furry red panda cubs and the antics of a gentle superhero chimp all helped deliver record visitor numbers to Dublin Zoo.
More than 1,029,417 people – the highest in the zoo's history – passed through its gates in the Phoenix Park during 2012.
Many of the more unusual new additions to the zoo helped entice more visitors across its threshold.
Yet there were plenty of new arrivals to boost animal numbers at the zoo including a tapir calf, two red panda cubs, two meerkat pups, two snowy owls and a sea lion pup.
The zoo also marked the first birthday of baby gorilla Kituba and opened its new Asian Forest habitat.
Zoo director Leo Oosterweghel said that for the first time the zoo had introduced two young Asian lionesses and a bull elephant, Upali.
Mr Oosterweghel said the zoo was now an "integral part" of European breeding programmes for endangered species. He said the introduction of the bull elephant to the group of females was a momentous development for the zoo.
In addition, the antics of gentle nine-year-old chimpanzee Bossou, who snatched three ducklings to safety after spotting them in the water around his habitat, also caught the attention of zoo-goers. It appeared the 60kg chimp believed his fellow chimps posed a threat to the three-day-old birds – and he plucked them from the water and cradled them to his chest.
A zookeeper had to coax him to hand the unharmed ducklings over to her in exchange for bananas.