A million euros is being given to Fota Wildlife Park from the Office of Public Works (OPW) in 2021.
The money is part of a €3m fund that is being split between Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park. Dublin Zoo will be in receipt of €2m. It is additional to support being provided by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage who secured €1.1m for the two institutes in November.
The State does not ordinarily provide funding to the zoo sector, however, due to the impacts of Covid-19, short term funding has been made available.
The funding was provided following a public donation campaign called ‘Save Dublin Zoo’ organised by Dublin Zoo in order to gather funds to keep the animals fed and looked after.
Minister of State for the Office of Public Works, Mr Patrick O’Donovan announced the funding on Tuesday and said he hoped the finance would allow both facilities to continue with capital projects already commenced.
Minister O’Donovan said, “We all know that Covid has had a catastrophic effect on the income of Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park. Both institutions rely heavily on the income from gate receipts which provide the means to improve and develop facilities for both animal welfare and for visitors.
“I am delighted to be able to announce that the Office of Public Works will now be able to step in and provide much-needed capital funding to ensure developments which have been commenced can be finalised as planned over the coming years.” The Minister added, “I’d also like to pay special tribute to the public who responded so magnificently to the recent appeal from Dublin Zoo, which clearly shows the special place it holds for Irish people.
“The Government is happy to step up and play its part in securing the immediate future of these important national institutions and to bridge the financial gap until hopefully the gates will open again and visitors can come and enjoy these wonderful attractions as they have done for generations”.
Commenting on the announcement, Sean McKeown, Director of Fota Wildlife Park said: “I would like to thank Minister O’Donovan and the OPW for making this funding available to Fota Wildlife Park and Dublin Zoo. This financial support will allow Fota Wildlife Park to re-commence essential work on capital projects such as flood defences, a refortification of the sea wall and construction of state-of-the-art habitats for our animals.
“Fota Wildlife Park is very grateful to the Irish Government, the Office of Public Works and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for the financial support of €1 million to ensure the completion of these capital projects.
“Fota Wildlife Park which is a conservation charity, experienced a 20% drop in visitor numbers and income in 2020 due to Covid-19 and we are still faced with the cost of the feeding and maintaining the highest welfare standards for the 124 species of animals that live here. Regardless of visitor numbers, the animals continue to get the same level of care and welfare they receive year-round.
“As we enter 2021, we are facing the real prospect of higher levels of Covid restrictions and a further loss of income, but we now do so from a stronger base with the assistance of Government and the people of Ireland.”