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Monday, 31 August 2009

An Illustrated history of Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo celebrates its long, colourful history with a major publication, Dublin Zoo: an illustrated history, by writer and historian, Catherine de Courcy.  Using lively stories about the animals, visitors, keepers and council, the book traces the growth of Dublin Zoo from its foundation in 1830 to today.  It is illustrated with nearly 400 images ranging from engravings of the Zoo in the 1830s to photos of the African Savanna in 2009. 


Unique aspects of Dublin’s history are explored, particularly the remarkable decision to allow the public in for a penny on Sundays from 1840 onwards.  The book also traces the mixed fortunes of the Zoo through troubled times including the famine, world wars, the Easter Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War, as well as several periods of severe economic hardship. 


At the heart of this history are stories about the elephants, rhinos, hippos, the famous ‘Irish Lion Industry’, escapes, gorillas, school trips, communion outings, fashionable social occasions, ice skating on the lake and so on.  Entertaining accounts of promenades or acquiring animals from distant lands provide a picture of the Zoo in the 19th and early 20th century.  Keepers’ and visitors’ memories of elephant rides, chimpanzee tea parties or feeding peanuts to the monkeys bring the mid-20th century to life.  And the achievements of the modern Zoo as a leader in the international zoo community honours the work and commitment of everyone involved in the evolution of Dublin Zoo from 1830 to today.

Dublin Zoo; an illustrated history is on sale in the Zoo Shop for €19.95 (€17.95 for members) or buy it online now by clicking HERE

Catherine will be doing talks and historic tours in the Zoo over the next few months; check the events calendar at


Published by The Collins Press, the book is also available online from 

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