Here’s the short story on the Dublin Zoo: it is excellent. My wife and I always seem to visit zoos during our travels, mainly because she likes critters, so we have seen a lot of very nice zoos and let me tell you that the Dublin Zoo is near the top of the list. There is a great variety of animals, the enclosures are very good size and in good shape, there is excellent access to the animals, and the setting is wonderful as the trails sort of meander around a couple of lakes.
There is a nice little opening scene once you come through the entrance; a deck overlooking a pond which has several varieties of waterfowl which are probably just local wild birds that are hanging out there. The birds were a common occurrence on all the water features in the zoo. We headed off down the path to the right and worked our way in a counterclockwise fashion around the first set of lakes and eventually made a figure-eight loop around the entire zoo. We stopped and enjoyed all of the exhibits, spending more time at some, but all totaled I reckon we spent about 2 hours in the zoo. By the way, the admission was 16 Euro for an adult ticket, so about $21 US. Perhaps a little high; for comparison, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo adult admission is $12.25. Still, the visit was well worth the price.
There were several highlights to the zoo. One of the first was the Kaziranga Forest Trail that provides access to the elephants. Our timing was pretty good here as the last of the rain showers hit when we were on this trail and the large overhanging leaves of the forest plants provided much needed shelter…and we were not the only folks hiding under these leaves!
I think my favorite area was the African Savanna with the Giraffes, Zebras, Scimitar-horned Oryx, ostriches and white rhinos. This is a very large, open area that gives the animals a lot of room to roam along with great viewing opportunities from the trail along the edge of the savanna. It was obviously dinner time when we arrived so the animals for milling about waiting to be brought in and fed, so we saw plenty of activity. The rhinos had the far end of the savanna to themselves. There was a calf in the group and it was just adorable and quite spunky. The little guy was running about and trying to get the adults to play, generally to no avail. At one point he must agitated one of his aunts a bit too much as she was getting ready to put the kid in his place. In comes mom who went nose-to-nose with auntie and backed her down. Just a very interesting set of interactions.
The Gorilla Rainforest was a truly remarkable habitat for these huge apes. Probably the best such enclosure that I have seen in any zoo. We later saw the old gorilla enclosure which was pretty good in its own right. The big cats and the wolves all had good size enclosures that provided room for the animals and good viewing opportunities. We were also lucky to see the otters frolicking in their pen. The bonus was the wild birds around the water features: Grey Heron, Coots and Little Grebes to name a few
Our last stop was at the Meerkat restaurant just for a drink and a short rest. Nice facility but nothing fancy; it obviously caters to the family crowd. Even though is looked to be preparing to close for the day you could tell that there was good variety of food options. We watched the meerkats for a while, finished our water and called it a day.
There are a lot of things to see and do in Dublin, and the zoo might not be high on your list, but it you want a change of pace from the sights and sounds of the city, head on over to Phoenix Park and check out the zoo. It is a nice way to spend an afternoon.
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