Dublin Zoo and Fota Island firm posts operating surplus in excess of €1m

Not-for-profit Zoological Society of Ireland accounts show income last year rose 21 per cent

Dublin Zoo last year enjoyed record visitor numbers as it posted an operating surplus of €1.09 million.

Consolidated accounts for the Zoological Society of Ireland (ZSI) which operates Dublin Zoo and Fota Island Wildlife Park show that income last year increased by €4.28 million or 21 per cent, rising from €20.35 million to €24.63 million.

The €24.63 million in revenues included gate income of €16.73 million while shop income increased from €2.9 million to €3.7 million. Annual pass and membership revenues rose from €1.79 million to €2.89 million.

The operating surplus of €1.09 million is down 69 per cent on the operating of surplus of €3.57 million for 2021 but that figure was skewed by €2.12 million in Covid-19 related supports.


In her report, the president of the Zoological Society of Ireland, Ann Keenan, said she was delighted Dublin Zoo had “our highest total visitor number since our foundation in 1831″.

Ms Keenan said that Dublin Zoo had a total of 1.27 million visitors, of which one million were day visitors, and a record 269,821 visitors came along to view the Zoo’s Wild Lights. Attendances at Fota Wildlife Park in Cork decreased by 12.5 per cent during the year from 474,794 to 415,200.

Ms Keenan said that Fota Wildlife Park recorded the highest first-quarter visitation numbers experienced to date but added that “inclement weather and other issues with accommodation in the Cork area caused some decline on 2021′s all-time record attendance performance”.

The 2022 performance continues the rapid turnaround in the finances of the not-for-profit ZSI as Dublin Zoo had warned in late 2020 that it may run out of cash by spring time of 2021 due to the pandemic impact.

In response to the zoo’s warning of running out of cash in 2020, the Government stepped in to provide it and Fota Wildlife Park with €1.1 million in funding to stabilise the parks’ finances while the public inundated the Save Dublin Zoo campaign with donations.

The ZSI last year received €3 million in Government capital grants and the directors state that with ”a significant focus on cost control”, the society recorded the operating surplus of €1.09 million.

The group spent €5.5 million on capital expenditure during 2022.

The surplus last year allowed the board to increase its emergency reserve fund by €500,000 to €3 million.

Staff costs last year increased from €6.07 million to €7.6 million as staff numbers increased from 135 to 175. Pay to 17 key management personnel totalled €1.18 million.

The surplus takes account of non-cash depreciation costs of €3.53 million.

Underlining that the society maintains a strong balance sheet, at the end of December last, the society’s funds totalled €35.5 million.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times