Dublin Zoo has raised more than €1 million in donations since it launched a fundraising campaign earlier today warning that it may have to close permanently because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The facility, which opened in 1830, is closed to the public because of coronavirus restrictions, but must still meet the cost of feeding and upkeep of the animals, which runs to about €500,000 a month.

It announced the launch of the 'Save Dublin Zoo' fundraising campaign, appealing to the public for help.

Dublin Zoo is a not-for-profit organisation, which does not receive statutory funding.

It says revenue streams, in the form of gate receipts and onsite sales, have all but evaporated because of Covid-19 and to date the zoo has lost €8.2m in potential revenue.

Launching the fundraising campaign Director of Dublin Zoo, Dr Christoph Schwitzer, said: "We are in serious financial difficulty because of Covid-19 and are launching the Save Dublin Zoo campaign to raise much needed funds to help care for the animals here at the zoo.

"We understand this is a challenging time for everyone, so we are asking people to only give what they can  every donation counts no matter the size.

"We have relied on our emergency cash reserves to remain open when allowed, but even then, visitor number restrictions due to social distancing have made it near impossible to generate enough revenue to just break even.

"Without financial support, we are facing an uncertain future and may have to close."

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Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Dr Schwitzer said Covid-19 had a severe effect on the zoo.

He said: "In normal times, it costs about €1m a month to run the zoo ... you can't switch off a zoo at night when you go home. Animal care alone costs half a million euro a month."

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has told the Dáil that the Government does not want Dublin Zoo to close and it will do everything to ensure that will not happen.

Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan has said he is confident his department will be able to offer short-term financial support to "help tide the two main zoos past this immediate challenge".

In a statement, he said he met some weeks ago with the directors of Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park in Cork and he has raised the matter with the Taoiseach and Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath.

The statement said: "The outflow of public goodwill in terms of donations is a testament to the high regard that these places have in our public consciousness. The loss of Dublin Zoo or Fota is unthinkable."

Also speaking to RTÉ's News at One, Minister Noonan said "significantly more" than €1m is required in funding.

"I think we're trying to look at trying to secure the future of both Dublin and Fota over the next number of months", he said. "So at least a million, but it certainly has to be more than that, in my view."