Inspite of having lived with Phoenix Park right on our doorstep for almost an year now, we somehow never got around to visiting the famous Dublin zoo until recently.
It was always on our bucket-list but I guess one tends to travel to the far-off exotic sights, often ignoring the gems present in their own backyard. Long story short, we were yet to visit this popular destination of Dublin that is one of the country’s ancient treasures. So, when hubby took a week off from work and we were rewarded with a gorgeous sunny day on the first day of his leave itself, without much further ado, we picked up the camera and headed towards the zoo. It was a crisp Monday morning and we were looking forward to spending a fun-filled day amid the animals.
Opened in 1831, Dublin Zoo is one of the world’s oldest and most popular zoos, spread over 28 hectare park. It is located in Phoenix park which is in the heart of Dublin and is home to some 400 animals in safely conserved environment. Few people know that it was the birthplace of the famous MGM lion who growled menacingly at the start of all the old black and white films.
We bought our tickets online which was so easy and got us a quick entry through the fast-track gate. Being a weekday, there were hardly any crowds. As we entered the premises and began making our way through the leafy avenues, we started hearing all sort of animal noises coming from different directions which were delightful to hear . To top it all, the weather was sunny with not a single cloud in sight!
The zoo is very user friendly with plenty of clearly marked signage. There are a variety of different habitats to walk through, and a number of animals to see. The orangutans, sea-lions, lemurs, meerkats, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, reptiles, elephants, flamingos, lions, hornbills, chimpanzees, the wolves, painted dogs… we saw them all.
Beautiful zebras at the African Savannah
Having been to many zoos in various cities/countries, I think Dublin Zoo is an exceptionally good zoo. It is clean, well-designed and well looked after. There are no miserable, caged animals here. All the inhabitants are kept in the surroundings very similar to their natural habitats and you get to observe them at length, going about their routine and leisurely doing their own thing. Most importantly, the zoo is run in the spirit of conservation and education, rather than of spectacle. The animals look healthy and extremely well cared for. The zoo also has a number of endangered species breeding programmes underway.
One can find some rare species here as well such as Snow leopard, red panda, Amur and Sumatrian Tigers. Most of them can be seen from a very close range, which is fantastic.
We particularly enjoyed the orangutans climbing overhead on the ropes.
The huge enclosures are perfect to view the animals and we were surprised to note that most of the animals were very interactive with visitors. Our most amazing experience was viewing the huge Amur tiger with just a glass seperating us from him. He seemed quite comfortable with people looking at him from behind the glass and kept coming nose to nose with us multiple times. We had never before watched a tiger from such close proximity. What a magnificent creation of God this creature is!
The zoo is well laid out and the animals are kept in excellent conditions.
There is a lot of walking involved (ensure that you wear comfortable shoes) but there are many little parks dotted along the way for children to blow off a little steam and to mingle with the other visiting children. Also, there are vending machines and cafes at regular distances to grab refreshments and ice-cream cones to enjoy while walking around. There are plenty of gardens and picnic spaces as well, so a packed lunch on a good day can amount to a very good outing for the family. There are also have several dedicated washrooms, diaper changing rooms as well as breastfeeding rooms available at frequent intervals which in itself we found very impressive. The gift-shop is well-stocked with adorable souvenirs and gifts and staff is courteous and friendly. It is lovely to meet the keepers when they are doing their talks and feeding animals. They will happily answer any questions you have .
On a good day, you cannot go wrong with this place. It is a fantastic attraction to both educate and entertain kids. Go early in the morning so that you can spend plenty of time there and take in the sounds and surroundings to your hearts’ content! It took us around four hours to cover the whole place at a comfortable pace. An annual family pass is available and is well worth the money, particularly if you are living near to the Phoenix park.
We had such an amazing day here and left the zoo in high spirits, knowing and appreciating the level of care that the animals enjoy at their Irish home. Dublin Zoo is definitely worth every penny!!
Dublin Zoo is set in the spectacular Phoenix Park which in itself is a stunning park to visit. The park was started as a royal deer park for King Charles II in 1662. Fallow deer herds have been kept in the park since its creation right down to the present day. It’s interesting to note that the Dublin zoo has hundreds of different species of animals but it is not home to the commonly found deer. I think that’s because one can see an amazing sight of deer herds roaming around freely in the Phoenix Park at any given time. It’s simply incredible!
This park has a lot to offer to the tourists of all tastes: It is home to Dublin Zoo, the Papal Cross (which was the location of an outdoor mass for over 1 million Catholics when Pope John Paul II visited in 1979 and is also the place you want to head to if you want to see the deer herds), the Wellington Monument- the largest obelisk in Europe and the oldest cricket club in Ireland. The official residence of the President of Ireland is also here.
Quiet and a charming area with very beautiful trees and little ponds with friendly ducks, the Phoenix Park covers 707 hectares which makes it one of the largest city parks in Europe. Around one-third of the park is covered with deciduous trees like oak, ash, lime, beech, sycamore and horse chestnut. One can rent bikes, stroll along or simply drive by the paths of this sublime green setting.
There are a some pretty fantastic cafes in Phoenix park and also a cute little tea room right near the zoo’s exit. Of the cafes, the boathouse cafe at Farmleigh (an estate of 78 acres situated to the north-west of Dublin’s Phoenix Park), seems to be the most popular one. Overlooking the ornamental lake, it allows you to enjoy a wonderful setting in a landscape unchanged since the 19th Century. It gives you a chance to experience great food alongside serene natural surroundings. An outdoor seating area is provided which is ideal for those lazy summer days.
The Government is currently lobbying UNESCO to have the Phoenix Park designated as a world heritage site.
A popular haunt of generations of ‘dubliners’, Phoenix Park continues to thrive and expand. During her visit to Ireland, pop princess Beyonce ditched her limousine and entourage to hire a bike and cycle through the peaceful green area.
If you are in Dublin, do not miss out on a chance to visit the heart of one of the world’s iconic cities. If the sun is shining, grab an impromptu picnic and head towards Phoenix park. Although, you may have to shield your food from the friendly herds of fallow deer. Yes, really!