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27th Dec 2018

Dublin Zoo Says Pope Is To Blame For Massive Drop In Visitor Numbers

Kiara Keane

The Pope’s visit along with the Beast from the East and the summer heatwave apparently all took their toll on Dublin Zoo’s visitor numbers throughout this year.

Last year the zoo had over 1.1million visitors, while they expect to see a final number of 1.01 million as 2018 comes to a close.

Zoo Director Leo Oosterweghel said the pope’s visit “pulled the rug a little bit” with his mass in Phoenix Park.

The zoo was forced to close for three days during their “biggest week” in August since they are also housed in Phoenix Park.

He explained, “The end of the school holidays … if the weather is good you have 10,000 people here in one day so we lost out.

“We took a hit. We’re down. We’re still above the million, but we’re probably down 100,000 visitors.”

Oosterweghel added, “First there was the extraordinary winter, it was hard to recover. Then we had this incredibly hot summer.

“Then his Holiness arrived the last week of August — we were closed for that whole period.”

However, he added that they’re still in the black for this year and they expect to “bounce back” with their visitor numbers in 2019.

As well as that, Oosterweghel said it was “amazing” to see the Phoenix Park so empty as he’s lived on site for 18 years, adding, “All I had to do was open my window and I could hear him.”

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