'Only fair for government to help out' - Pat Kenny

Broadcaster Pat Kenny

Melanie Finn

Newstalk's Pat Kenny is calling on the Government to hand out funds to help save Dublin Zoo.

The broadcaster, whose father Jim was one of the zoo's best-known keepers, grew up near to the Phoenix Park attraction and said it would be devastating for the country if it were to close down.

"I lived on Infirmary Road, which was a 10-minute walk from the zoo and very handy for my father going to work and handy for us as we were constantly up at the zoo as children," he told the Herald.

"It's a tremendous asset and is much improved since my father's time. We're much more informed and enlightened in terms of the way the animals are housed.

"It's a wonderful asset for the city and for the country because it's not just a destination for Dubliners, it's a destination for people all over the place."

Dublin Zoo was forced to close when Level 5 restrictions were introduced last month but had already been operating at a limited capacity in terms of visitor numbers.

"I'm very sorry for them being in such dire straits; they had been very successful in recent times, they generated all their own capital to do all their expansion, creating new habitats for the animals," Mr Kenny (above) said.

"They have had their little nest egg taken away by Covid. It's terrible.

"It's incredibly expensive to run because they have balanced diets now.

"My father would be feeding the elephants turnips and whatever else was delivered to him. But nowadays, there's designer foods for all the animals in the zoo so it's highly scientific and of course, expensive.

"It's been there for so long, almost two centuries, so you're looking at an institution that has gone through tough times.


"Then Bertie Ahern took a great interest in it and the president at the time donated land that allowed the zoo to expand so it's created a new lease of land for the zoo.

"It would be a shame that that would be damaged or dented or even destroyed by the Covid outbreak, it would be terrible."

He said that it was only fair that the Government put its hand in their pockets because the zoo has been so curtailed because of the State restrictions.

"Someone texted me this morning and said, 'Every public park is jammers with people.' Yet you can't go into the zoo, even in controlled numbers out of doors.

"So if Government decisions force the closure of the zoo, then it should put its hand in its pocket for it," he said.