A new habitat added to Dublin Zoo is set to see visitor numbers soar this summer.
Sea Lion Cove will be home to a colony of up to eight Calafornia sea lions at the zoo. Currently there are three sea lions in the habitat: Nico (male), Cassie, Florence and in coming weeks Seanna (all female).
“I am confident that Sea Lion Cove will add to [Dublin Zoo’s] international reputation,” said President Michael D Higgins, who further added; “A day trip to the zoo has been an essential highlight to generations of Irish children and adults for years.”
The zoo has seen major success in recent years with over one million visitors passing through its gates every year for the last four years, but according to director of Dublin Zoo Leo Oosterweghe, this number is likely to increase after the addition of Sea Lion Cove.
However, the building of this particular habitat proved challenging throughout, according to Mr Oosterweghe. He said: “The build was very complex and as 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."
Added President Higgins: “Work started on Sea Lion Cove in September 2014. All of this work was done in this timescale so people from all over the world should be looking at it to see what can be achieved in a short space of time due to Irish talent.”
The habitat includes a deep salt water pool which is modelled on the natural environment of that of the California sea lions.
Dublin Zoo is a not-for-profit organisation and all visitors’ entrance fees are used in maintaining the zoo as well as funding other conservation projects.
Dublin Zoo is open seven days a week from 9.30am to 6pm.