A little piece of the Himalayan Hills has been added to Dublin Zoo
Dublin Zoo's newest habitat is based on the Himalayan Hills and it is home to a red panda and snow leopard!
Officially opened today by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar it will now be open for the public to enjoy and learn more about these fascinating creatures.
"Dublin Zoo had a place deep in my heart as a child. The children of today and the future will have even more to see when they come here," he said, speaking at the launch.
The red panda is listed as endangered and the snow leopard is not far behind as a vulnerable species.
Dublin Zoo has been working hard on conservation efforts for these animals. The Director of Dublin Zoo, Christoph Schwitzer, told Her about this.
"We’ve seen a 50% population decline of the red panda species over the last 18 years alone, so that’s quite dramatic," he said.
"This was triggered by poaching, illegal poaching in particular and also by habitat loss and by the animals contracting diseases from domestic dogs."
He explained that the fur trade has greatly contributed to the decline of snow leopards also.
He is hoping the new habitat will bring light to these issues.
"I’m hoping to convey our conservation message," he said.
"We’ve put in conservation signage around in order to bring this issue to life so that people who come here know what the animals are facing in the wild and then can spread that message further."
Red pandas were voted by visitors of Dublin Zoo as their favourite animal. Red pandas live high up in trees and their habitat was designed with this in mind. The enclosure features large broad-leafed evergreen trees for the pandas to live in.
The Snow Leopard's enclosure was also made to reflect their natural habitat.
"Snow leopards, in particular, live very high up in the Himalayas up to 5000 meters in the wild and on these very rocky steep slopes," Christoph said.
"We’ve tried to do that here as we have a natural slope here going into the Phoenix Park so we used that to put the slope on it and brought lots of rocks in."
You can now see the enclosure at Dublin Zoo.