A new habitat added to Dublin Zoo is set to make a splash with visitors this summer.
Sea Lion Cove will be home to a colony of up to eight California sea lions. Currently there are three sea lions in the habitat: male Nico, and females Cassie, Florence and in the coming weeks Seanna.
"I am confident that Sea Lion Cove will add to Dublin Zoo's international reputation," said President Michael D Higgins, who opened the habitat yesterday. "A day trip to the zoo has been an essential highlight to generations of Irish children and adults for years."
Over one million visitors come through the zoo's gates every year, but according to director of Dublin Zoo Leo Oosterweghe, this number is likely to increase after the addition of Sea Lion Cove.
However, building the habitat was challenging, Mr Oosterweghe said.
"The construction took place on the site of a former lake; there were significant engineering challenges. But the result is a fantastic new habitat for the sea lions at Dublin Zoo and an excellent visitor experience," he said.
Dublin Zoo is a not-for-profit organisation and all visitors' entrance fees are used in maintaining the zoo and for other conservation.