Preparations give zoo animals a three-day break from the public
Animals in Dublin Zoo are to get a three-day break from pesky kids and snap-happy parents on the back of the papal visit.
The zoo is to shut its gates to the public on Friday evening and will not reopen until Tuesday, August 28.
The move comes after a request from the Office of Public Works (OPW), which oversees the upkeep of the Phoenix Park.
Chief park superintendent Margaret Gormley told the Irish Independent that the park needs to close to allow the final touches to be put to the plan for the papal Mass on Sunday.
Zookeepers will be allowed inside the cordon to ensure all the animals are fed and looked after.
"Really it's to do with security," Ms Gormley said. "There's going to be crews working here 24/7 from Friday evening. There's a lot of infrastructure that has to be got in at the last minute.
"For public safety, we have managed to keep the park open for as long as we could."
Ms Gormley noted that the Phoenix Park's natural residents - wild fallow deer - are being carefully monitored in advance of the arrival of 500,000 people to see the Pope. The herd regularly grazes in the area around the Papal Cross, which has been transformed into a massive building site ahead of the visit.
"This is their natural grazing area. They are very used to events in the park. We have more than 300 events every year. They move to the quieter areas," Ms Gormley said.
However, she noted that they have been showing interest in the construction of the stage and public viewing areas.
Workers have been careful to leave passageways open to allow the deer to roam freely.
"At night they actually come back up and have a wander around. They actually do move around the park in the evening," Ms Gormley added.
Meanwhile, Dublin City Council has published details of more than 150 temporary road closures that will hit the capital on Saturday and Sunday. Pilgrims are being urged to use public transport, which will be free of charge within the confines of the city. Parking restrictions will also be in place in some areas.