By Michael McHugh and James Ward, PA
Dublin Zoo has raised more than €1 million in donations since it launched a fundraising campaign on Wednesday.
The cost of feeding and looking after animals can run to around half a million euros a month, but the Zoo remains closed to the public due to the coronavirus restrictions.
It has warned it will have to close its gates for good if it cannot find a way to plug an almost €10 million deficit caused by Covid-19.
The Zoo tweeted: “Orang’ of applause to you all!
“Never in our wildest dreams did we think we’d get here – let alone this soon!
“We have reached a mind blowing €1,000,000 – and it’s all thanks to you!”
The Government has confirmed it will step in to keep the zoo afloat.
❤ Save Dublin Zoo ❤
Orang’ of applause to you all!
Never in our wildest dreams did we think we’d get here - let alone this soon!
We have reached a mind blowing €1,000,000 – and it’s all thanks to you!
Even Sibu, the Bornean orangutan can’t believe it! #SaveDublinZoo pic.twitter.com/vcrVVhtNj8
— Dublin Zoo (@DublinZoo) November 18, 2020
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “The Government does not want Dublin Zoo to close and we will do everything we possibly can to ensure Dublin Zoo stays open.
“In my view given the extraordinary circumstances of a global pandemic, a once in 100-year event, Government has to intervene here.
“Government has to work with Dublin Zoo to ensure that it’s available for generations to come.”
While the zoo does not ordinarily receive capital funding, an exception is being made in the context of the global pandemic.
Heritage Minister Malcolm Noonan said he is considering short-term options to give the required funding to both Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park.
He tweeted: “The outflow of public goodwill in terms of donations is testament to the high regard that these places have in our public consciousness. The loss of Dublin or Fota is unthinkable.”
You can’t furlough an elephant
Dublin Zoo is one of the most popular tourism attractions in the country. It has lost millions in admissions fees in a matter of months after it was forced to close during the pandemic.
Launching the fundraising campaign on Wednesday, zoo director Christoph Schwitzer said the facility faces an estimated loss of €8.2 million in revenue so far this year.
He told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland: “You can’t furlough an elephant, you can’t switch off a zoo at night when you go home.
“Our animals need and deserve 24/7 care and we provide the highest standards of animal care and welfare possible.
As part of the fundraising initiative, Dublin Zoo has rolled out new adoption packages for its animals.
I’ve just adopted four animals at Dublin Zoo. The Zoo needs our help more than ever to stay open. Due to Covid restrictions and loss of revenue it may have to close. So please donate what you can, or adopt an animal as a Christmas gift #SaveDublinZoo https://t.co/ZHKPIBOPwj
— Rory Cowan (@1rorycowan) November 18, 2020
Mrs Brown’s Boys star Rory Cowan was among those to participate, adopting four animals – a giraffe, elephant, gorilla and penguin.
He tweeted: “Along with my two cats, Pebbles and Bam-Bam, I’ve now got a total of six. I hope they all get on.”
Dublin Lord Mayor Hazel Chu also chipped in, adopting an elephant.
She tweeted: “Have asked the zoo how I can support & in the meantime have adopted an elephant to help #SaveDublinZoo.”
She added: “Ps.Yes I paid for it personally!”
More information on the campaign to save the zoo can be found at www.dublinzoo.ie.