National Reptile Zoo appeals for help as Covid-19 wipes income

Facility in Co Kilkenny, which houses more than 200 animals, relying on donations

James Hennessy, owner of the National Reptile Zoo in Kilkenny which has been closed to visitors since March 15th, describes how life must go on for the facility's inhabitants despite coronavirus. Video: John Cassidy


The National Reptile Zoo in Co Kilkenny has been in receipt of no income for more than a month due to the Covid-19 pandemic and is appealing to the public for donations to ensure the animals can be properly cared for.

James Hennessy, owner of the zoo, said there are more than 200 animals at the facility, which is the only reptile zoo in the country. It houses animals such as alligators, pythons, cobras, geckos, tarantulas and poison dart frogs.

“On a normal day, we’d have seven full time staff and when we get busier in the season we get about six more staff,” said Mr Hennessy. “Those staff do everything from feeding animals, changing water, checking heating systems, logging data.

“We do a lot of conservation work as well, so we do work abroad. We have an outreach programme where we go to schools and colleges and various corporate events as well to spread the word about conservation so quite a lot of work goes into the day to day running of the place.

“We were headed down the right road, but unfortunately with the way things have gone now, things have changed. On March 15th we had to shut the doors to the public.

“People coming in through our doors were paying admission, and that was our only source of income. That and us going to schools and stuff, which also had to stop, so we have had zero income from March 15th.”

Mr Hennessy said the zoo has been relying on donations from the pubic since then in order to keep things running.

“Unfortunately everything in the building still has to operate,” he said. “So, up to today, we’ve been relying on people’s donations like people buying adoptions, pre-selling tickets for the future. People have been dropping in food to us like greens and vegetables and fruits.

“That’s been brilliant but there’s not quite enough to keep us going so we’ve had to set up a Go Fund Me page to try and get us that little bit further just to make sure we can give all the animals everything that they need.”

The page can be located here.