Dublin Zoo to reopen on Tuesday with a new booking system

Access limited to one-way tour around safari trail while adhering to social distancing

Among the new animals at the zoo are a male southern white rhinoceros calf. Photograph: The Irish Times

Among the new animals at the zoo are a male southern white rhinoceros calf. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Dublin Zoo is to reopen on a trial basis for a limited number of visitors who will have to follow strict social distancing rules.

Tickets will have to pre-booked online for either a morning or afternoon session, with numbers allowed into each session capped at 500 – less than one tenth of usual visitor numbers at the attraction for this time of year.

A strict one-way system around the various enclosures will operate during the trial reopening, with hygiene stations and signage informing visitors to stay at least two metres apart.

The zoo has been shut to the public since March 12th due to Government-ordered coronavirus shutdown.

Restrictions on some viewing areas mean visitors will not be able to see wolves, hippos, Waldrapp ibis, Amur tigers or the red pandas.

But most of the animals, including the herd of Asian elephants, chimpanzees, the western lowland gorillas, giraffes, rhinos, zebras, sealions, penguins, lemurs, orangutans and lions, will be on view.

Leo Oosterweghel, zoo director, said it will be a “careful, phased reopening”.

“These past weeks have been a very challenging time for Dublin Zoo, but I would like to take this opportunity to thank the public for the thousands of messages we have received extending their love and support to us,” he said.

“In the same vein, we have received numerous queries regarding our reopening date and while we are pleased to announce it will be June 2nd, it is important to stress that this is a trial period for Dublin Zoo and patience and understanding will be required from visitors as we navigate our new pre-booking system, two daily opening sessions and one-way walking route.”

Mr Oosterweghel said he would “strongly advise anyone considering a visit to Dublin Zoo that they check current government travel restrictions to ensure they are abiding by them.”

Dublin Zoo is one of the top tourist attractions in Ireland, normally drawing more than 1.2 million visitors a year.

It closed its doors to all but a core team of socially distanced zookeepers ten weeks ago, with employee numbers cut from 100 to 40.

Last month, Mr Oosterweghel told The Irish Times the animals were baffled as to where everyone had gone.

“They look at me with more surprise now,” he said. “They come up and have a good look because they’re wondering what’s happened to everyone else. They are used to visitors.”