DUBLIN Zoo’s latest addition to its family of animals is also its biggest – a massive bull elephant called Upali.
The arrival of the Asian elephant was announced at a particularly large unveiling cere- mony at the Kaziranga Forest Trail for the newcomer who was one of the zoo’s most highly anticipated arrivals in years.
Upali arrived in Dublin from Chester Zoo at midnight on Thursday July 5 and the 17-year-old is three metres tall and weighs over 6,000kgs, equivalent to the weight of 10 Friesian cows.
Upali’s arrival is a momentous development for both the zoo and the international breeding programme as he joins three breeding females - sisters Bernhardine and Yasmin, and Yasmin’s calf Anak.
It’s hoped that the elephants will mate and double the size of the Dublin Zoo herd over the coming years.
Preparation for Upali’s arrival began last September when construction of the bull elephant house commenced. To accommodate him comfortably, the purpose built structure, which was designed and project managed by the Office of Public Works (OPW), is 200 square metres with a glass ceiling, radiant heating and 1.5 metre deep sand for the elephant to stand on.
Director at Dublin Zoo, Leo Oosterweghel, described Upali’s arrival as a “hugely significant occasion” for the zoo and for the international breeding programme.
“We are very grateful to the Government and the OPW for the funding and technical support they have provided over the past 18 years. Without the commitment from the Government we could not have transformed Dublin Zoo into Ireland’s number one family attraction with over one million visitors per annum.”
Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW), Brian Hayes (FG), officially opened the new Bull Elephant House which will be Upali’s home.
“My office, the OPW, have worked closely with the zoo over many years and the result of this collaboration is evident throughout the zoo and its many new developments,” he said.
“I congratulate Dublin Zoo on becoming one of both my own personal and indeed the nation's favourite visitor attractions.”
Visitors to the zoo can see Upali and the other elephants at the Kaziranga Forest Trail daily. The keeper talk ‘Elephant Encounters’ happens at 12.30pm every day. You can also keep an eye on the herd on the zoo’s elephant webcam by visiting the website www. dublinzoo.ie.