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Kilkenny’s National Reptile Zoo among those to benefit from €1.6million funding for sector

Local Minister Malcolm Noonan has been telling KCLR that more still needs to be done to save our zoos

Ireland’s zoos have received a major windfall, with €1.6million announced for the sector this Saturday afternoon.

It follows a week of strong public concern for the sector, spearheaded by a ‘Save Dublin Zoo’ campaign.

Dublin Zoo are now to share €1.1million of the money with Fota Wildlife Park in Cork.

The funds will support a total of 71 zoos and aquaria nationwide, including the National Reptile Zoo in Kilkenny.

Many of them had warned they were at risk of closing for good due to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions.

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan says the funding highlights how greatly Ireland values its zoos, telling KCLR news that;  “It was only when the ‘Save Dublin Zoo’ campaign started, we discovered at the end of the day I think it was over €1million raised. It was really astonishing, and I think that really shows, and is testament to, the good will that is out there, and the memories that are made in our zoos for families for generations. So we’re delighted today to be able to confirm that we have secured €1.6million in funding both for Dublin and Fota, and to help some of the smaller zoos, including the reptile zoo here in Kilkenny.”

While the funding is being broadly welcomed, Minister Noonan warns that it may not be enough to save the sector; “When Covid hit, the zoos closed like everywhere else and their income just fell rock bottom. They’re reliant on their gate receipts, their franchises and their shops to generate income to do the conservation work that they do, and that just completely collapsed” he explained. “As we heard with Dublin zoo in particular, it’s €500,000 a month just to feed all the animals. From that point of view, we saw that we needed to step in here. I would hope that this is just part of an initial package that we can help secure, because this is only going to see them through the next number of months, perhaps into the end of January and February. So there will be further packages required to get them through this impasse, and hopefully they can open their gates and doors again further into 2021.”