Zooray! We're all going to Dublin Zoo
Dublin Zoo welcomed a record number of people through its gates last year, confirming its status as the State’s most popular family visitor attraction.
The Phoenix Park venue achieved an all-time high of 1,029,417 visitors in 2012, surpassing the previous year’s number by 2.5 per cent.
In 2011 the zoo attracted more than a million visitors for the first time in its 180-year history.
Visitor numbers last year were boosted by zoo’s new gorilla rainforest habitat which opened in late 2011.
There were also a number of new arrivals including two young Asian lionesses and a bull elephant, named Upali.
The male elephant's arrival last summer represents an important milestone in the zoo’s attempt to cultivate a domestic breeding programme. Keepers hope the elephants will mate and double the size of herd in the coming years.
Director Leo Oosterweghel said: “Reaching one million in 2011 was fantastic but to do it again and add to that number is phenomenal.
“We are delighted to say that the zoo is more popular than ever. We are extremely proud to be in a position to say that after a decade of continuous development that Dublin Zoo is amongst the best Zoos in the world.”
The zoo said its Christmas special programme, which aired on RTÉ One in December, was watched by an average audience of 429,000 viewers. Increased marketing, public relations and social media activity also contributed hugely to its strong performance, it added.