- Dublin Zoo, Ireland.

Zoo History

Bull Elephant Rama-1900

Dublin Zoo was opened in 1831 by the then Royal Zoological Society of Ireland, which had been founded the previous year. The animals were supplied by its counterpart in the UK, London Zoo.

Like other Zoos of this time, Dublin Zoo was nothing like it is today. Its purpose was to show as many different kinds of animals as possible to people who had never seen anything like it.

Our Zoo has had a long and fascinating history - here are just some highlights from the first hundred years.


Year Event
1833 The entrance lodge to the Zoo was built for £30! You can still see it today!
1838 To celebrate Queen Victoria's Coronation the Zoo held an open day - 20,000 people visited, which is still the highest number of visitors in one day.
1844 The Zoo received its first giraffe
1855 The Zoo bought its first pair of lions. These bred for the first time in 1857.
1868-9 An aquarium, a lion house and the Society House (which still stands) built with funds from a government grant.
1876 Reptiles shared the aquarium; it officially became the reptile house in the 1890s
1898 Haughton House opened, providing tea rooms for members upstairs and animal enclosures downstairs.
1916 Getting in and out of Phoenix Park became difficult during the Easter Rising and meat ran out. In order to keep the lions and tigers fed, some of the other animals in the zoo were killed!
1939-1945 During World War II the popularity of the Zoo soared despite the difficulty in replacing animals who died. The public donated food for the animals and, after the war when fuel was still difficult to acquire, trees were chopped down to heat the houses.
Today There are still parts of the zoo that date back to the very beginning - why not come along and see them for yourself!

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