Dublin Zoo last year enjoyed record numbers and returned to profit as gate income at the entity which operates the Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park in Cork almost doubled to €14.16 million.
The surge in gate income and Government Covid-19 supports resulted in the Zoological Society of Ireland (ZSI) recording a surplus of €3.57 million for 2021 compared to a 2020 loss of €564,000.
The directors state the not-for-profit group expects to also generate a surplus in 2022 to help fund its strategic objectives.
The €3.57 million surplus last year represents quite a turnaround in the finance of the ZSI as Dublin Zoo had warned in late 2020 that it may run out of cash by Spring time of 2021 due to the pandemic impact.
Protect for future
According to ZSI directors, the 2021 surplus has allowed the Board to reinstate the Emergency Reserve Fund with €2.5 million set aside “to help protect against any future pandemic outbreaks, the threat of zoonotic disease or any other emergency that might impact on the ongoing finances of the group”.
The ZSI’s annual report shows that gate receipt income last year increased by 87 per cent to €14.16 million,
The Society’s overall income totalled €20.35 million last year made up of operating income of €19.99 million and fundraising income of €355,000.
The operating income also includes €2.9 million in shop income, €1.1 million in ‘other income’ and €1.79 million in annual pass and membership income.
The ZSI’s operating income of €19.99 million is a 67 per cent increase on the 2020 operating income of €11.92 million.
The fundraising income across 2021 and 2020 totalled €2.59 million and arose from Dublin Zoo developing a digital fundraising initiative, ‘Save Dublin Zoo’ to raise funds from the public to meet the costs of animal care and welfare during the pandemic.
The ZSI recorded a surplus of €1.44 million before Covid-19 related income supports of €2.12 million are taken into account resulting in the surplus of €3.57 million.
In the 2021 annual report of the Zoological Society of Ireland, President, Anne Keenan said that last year Dublin Zoo enjoyed record attendances of 972,224 for the eight months that the Zoo was open, after Covid-19 restrictions shut down the Zoo for almost the first four months of 2021.
The visitor numbers to Dublin Zoo were double the 497,483 visitors for 2020 but down 300,378 on the 12 months of 2019 as the attraction continued to recover from the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.
The attendance at Fota Wildlife Park was 474,794 - up 23.5 per cent 2020.
The profit also takes into account non-cash depreciation charges of €2.76 million.
In response to the Zoo's warning of running out of cash in 2020, the Government stepped in to provide Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park with €1.1 million in funding to stabilise the parks’ finances while the public inundated the Save Dublin Zoo campaign with donations.
Numbers employed increased from 124 to 135 and staff costs increased from €5.22m to €6 million.
Underlining that the society maintains a strong balance sheet, at the end of December last, the society’s funds totalled €34.46 million.