Mary Lou McDonald slammed for 'hypocritical' calls to save Dublin Zoo

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Sinn Fein’s calls to save Dublin Zoo have been slammed as “hypocritical” after the party called for the closure of a zoo in Belfast, branding them “outdated, unethical and wrong”.

Dublin Zoo launched a fundraising campaign on Wednesday after it revealed closures due to the coronavirus pandemic had left it in serious financial difficulty.

The zoo does not receive any public funding and Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald called on the Government to implement a rescue package to keep beloved Phoenix Park site running.

The Dublin Central TD said: “Dublin Zoo is an important amenity in our capital city and one of the most popular cultural and tourist attractions in the country.

“It is one of the world’s most progressive zoos and its role in conservation and its dedication to animal welfare cannot be overstated.

“Its closure would be a significant blow to employment, tourism and the local economy.

“I have no doubt that the loss of Dublin Zoo would also come as a blow to the morale of families and children across Ireland.”

However the Sinn Fein leader’s comments seem to be at odds with a proposal earlier this year to close Belfast Zoo.

Councillor Conor Maskey brought a motion before Belfast City Council in January calling for the closure of Belfast Zoo, saying: “The current treatment of animals for entertainment purposes should have no place in modern Belfast.”

The Castle Ward rep also argued that it was financially unsustainable with ratepayers in the city contributing £2.5m per year to subsidise the facility.

The proposal called for animals at the zoo to be returned to their national habitat and for the site to be transformed into a “world class visitor attraction” over a five-year transitional period.

There was a huge backlash against the motion, which was branded “ludicrous” with many councillors arguing that the animals would not survive in the wild.

The zoo is home to Barbary Lions, a species that is extinct in the wild, and participates in a range of national and international breeding and conservation programmes.

The motion was rejected by the council, who instead committed to look into further investment and a feasibility study for the long term sustainability of the zoo.

The difference in the party’s stance on zoos in the north and south of the country has drawn criticism.

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan wrote on Twitter: “Confirmation of Sinn Fein policy: Some animals really are more equal than others.”

The Foyle rep’s comments were met with a mixed response.

One woman wrote: “Absolutely ridiculous and embarrassing. This party is so hypocritical!”

Others argued Belfast Zoo, which has seen the death of three giraffes and a number of animal escapes last year, is in desperate need for reinvestment.

One wrote: “Very different Zoos. One a top attraction with approved facilities with range of wider educational aspects. The other outdated with poor access and stuck in past.”

Dublin Live has contacted Mary Lou McDonald for further comment.

Source: Dublin News