Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD has confirmed that the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is considering options which will offer short term financial support to help Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park during their current financial difficulties.
While the State does not ordinarily provide funding to the zoo sector, Minister Noonan and Minister Darragh O’Brien are considering these measures in the context of the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effect it has had on these organizations.
Commenting Minister Noonan said, “I understand that today Dublin Zoo has launched a new fund-raising campaign: ‘Save Dublin Zoo’. This initiative, in response to the impact of COVID-19 on its revenue streams, is commendable and demonstrates the Zoo’s commitment to maintaining its high standards of animal welfare in the most difficult of circumstances.
“I met some weeks ago with the directors of Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park as well as the director of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) to assess the scale of the challenges faced by our zoos and aquariums and what funding was required. This followed on from extensive engagement over the summer months by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
“To that end, I am confident that our Department will be able to offer short term financial support to help tide the two main zoos past this immediate challenge. I have been liaising with Minister O’Brien and we are working to find solutions here. I have also raised the matter with An Taoiseach and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Minister McGrath.
“We recognise too the important conservation work they do with not just international endangered species through shared breeding programmes with other zoos but with the conservation of Irish species such as the natterjack toad, Ireland’s only indigenous species of toad. They also serve to raise awareness of biodiversity and have been an important educational resource for generations of school children from all over Ireland,” concluded Minister Noonan.
Minister O’Brien added, “I understand there are significant costs involved in running these organisations and that ordinarily Government support would not be needed. However, in the context of a global pandemic we are very aware that they need our assistance. As a Dublin TD, the zoo has been a highlight for my family for many years. We want our zoos to bustle with the sound of families again and already today the outflow of public goodwill in terms of donations is testament to the high regard that these places have in our public consciousness. The Department are currently working on a short term support package which will assist these organisations,” he concluded.