Life with The National Reptile Zoo

Dave with Rafiki

My name is Dave and I started working in The National Reptile Zoo in February 2014.

When I got the news that I had managed to become part of the Reptile Zoo family I could hardly speak to accept the offer. I was over the moon. I lived in Dublin so I decided to up and move myself down to the home of the cats (and snakes)! It was a big move for me as I wasn’t familiar with Kilkenny and knew no one down there. I started in the zoo on the 6th February and was immediately learning new skills! The first of which being to hold a Tarantula. Being afraid of spiders at the time, I can’t say that this was the most thrilling of first tasks for me but I soon learned to appreciate and respect them just as much as any other animal. It wouldn’t cost me a thought to pick up a Tarantula now – although I’m still working on house spiders!!!

I was soon made the Education Officer. Having a background working with children both in Ireland and America this was a welcome title as I felt that I could do a lot of good work through this position. I was also able to use my degree in Zoology to help educate students (and teachers) all around the country about the wonders of reptiles. I also got to travel all over and meet some amazing people in this roll. Below is a picture of me and some kids with our Burmese Python Blue Steel. I remember the students were asking 100 questions a minute about all the different animals and it was amazing to see their reactions to the animal itself and their amazement at some of the answers they were receiving.

Dave with school kids

It wasn’t just schools I got to visit but shopping centres, libraries, pet shops, businesses and many more interesting places through our Zoo to You Programme. I even got to dress up on occasion. Applying all the fake blood and ripping old uniforms up in Blanchardstown Shopping Centre for Hallowe’en was great fun and people’s reactions were priceless when they saw the site (or state) of me with Biscuit our 4 metre Green Anaconda.

Dave with Rascal Dave with Biscuit





As with most good things though, my time in the reptile zoo name to an end in 2015 when I decided that Dublin was just too inviting to live in and I decided to move back up home. With 18 months of amazing experiences under my belt I thought it was time for the next chapter in my life and applied for a masters in teaching to become a secondary school teacher. My time without the zoo in my life was short lived though as I was back in a few weeks helping out again. For the summer I have managed to find myself working for the zoo, but in Drogheda this time. We have a Lost World Exhibit open in Funtasia Waterpark and I’m right back in the thick of it once more and loving it.

Dave with Rafiki

I can safely say that working in The National Reptile Zoo has changed my life. It gave me opportunities I never thought I would have. I have learned so much through the work I have done for the zoo such as the inner workings of how a business operates, how to run a class with a 3 metre Burmese Python wrapped around you and of course untold amount of information about reptiles!

I loved my time in the zoo. It has given me direction in life to follow my new career path and the skills to do it. I have met so many (weird and) wonderful people who are a part of my life and who I chat with on a weekly, if not daily, basis (regardless if I want to or not!)

The NRZ Team
If anyone is interested in learning more about how to get involved in this kind of work or would just like to know more about reptiles in general (or anything I have talked about) you can contact us at

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Jack – TY Student

Jack – TY Student

My time in The National Reptile Zoo has truly been one of the highlights of my Transition Year. When I arrived on my first day I was greeted with nothing but kindness and treated with respect. Since the beginning I had constantly been learning about each of the many animals in the zoo and how to care for them whether it be their diet, habitat or even how warm their exhibit should be.

Plated Lizard - JackTY

I was introduced to not only care for the animals but respect them as well. While they are amazing creatures, each one of them deserves respect, as mishandling or mistreating even the smallest of animals endangers not only them but yourself. I also learned that many retiles are quite intelligent animals. Their intelligence allows them to be tested with enrichment games and puzzles, such as the keepers hiding some food in different areas of the exhibit or rewarding the animal if it went to a certain area when its door was opened.

Bird Eating Tarantula - JackTY

When working in a place like this it’s hard to pick just one moment to pick as my favourite. I could say getting to go into the alligator pond and clean while they stared at me, feeding animals like the Dwarf Caiman or the Burmese Python. Holding a Chillian Rose Tarantula or Emperor Scorpion or even having Asian Water Monitors and Green Iguanas climb onto me because I look comfy. There are just too many to choose. So I pick all of them.

The staff are the friendliest people I have ever met. They’re so fun to work with! Each day just seemed more enjoyable the better I got to know them all. I’ve met people from Denmark, Holland, Spain, and France who, just as I did, came to learn and enjoyed themselves doing it.

Alligators - JackTY

I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every day of my experience at The National Reptile Zoo and I can say that, not only have I left with new knowledge and memories under my belt, but friends that have made it all worthwhile.

Jack came to the zoo as part of out Transition Year work experience placement scheme. If you would like to know more about this you can click here.

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Christmas Opening Times

Are you looking for something to do?,

Why not take a little time for YOU,

We are open all over the Holiday Season,

So come on in you don’t need a reason….

except the 24th, 25th & 26th!!

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Guest Blog: Jackie Hilgers

Hi, I’m Jackie and I’m an intern from the Netherlands I study Animal Care at MBO Lentiz in Maasland. I had a four week long internship here at the zoo and it was wonderful.

Jackie with Burm

I learned a lot about many different species, my favourite of all being the Black & White Tegu (Salvator merianae). I enjoyed feeding the carnivores and I even got to build an exhibit for the small Spotted Python (Antaresia maculosa)!

One of the most fun things to do where the Animal Encounter Sessions where visitors can see the animals up close and even handle some of them. I got to do one of those last Wednesday when a bunch of artists from the local Cartoon Saloon came by to draw the animals! I even got to be in one of the sketches, posted below. I’ve really enjoyed my time at the zoo and I have learned a lot.

You should come by and explore the zoo and the keepers will be more than happy to answer all the question’s you might have.

Jackie Sketch

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Reptile Zoo needs you!


As part of our mission here at The National Reptile Zoo, we want to continue to inspire a passion for nature in our visitors and encourage them to become more engaged with the natural world around them.

For the past decade, our existing Tropical Walk-through Exhibit has engaged and fascinated members of the public as they interact with our free roaming lizards and tortoise. Visitors walk away from this exhibit with a new found respect and appreciation for the animal world, and with a better understanding of the conservation of our environment.

But after ten years, its time to re-build and make it bigger! This is where you come in…

Unfortunately for us conservation is not free, we receive no funding from any government body and it is through your generosity and interest that we have been able to continue, we need your help in funding a new dome exhibit, giving our scaly friends a fantastic new habitat, flooded with natural light, filled with live tropical plants, and three times the size of their existing home!

Not only that, but you’re also helping to educate future generations about the plight of endangered species in the wild, helping to conserve what we love.

What We Need & What You Get

We have started construction of a Geodesic Dome, created with sustainable timber which will be covered in transparent polycarbonate. This polycarbonate allows penetration of essential UV rays which up to now, we have been providing by way of artificial light. Without these rays, reptiles cannot metabolise calcium in their system, eventually leading to death.

Within this dome, we will recreate a tropical rain forest, complete with misting system (recreating natural rainfall), supplementary heating system, and bio-active forest floor. Just what every reptile wants to make them feel at home!

Of course, we want you to enjoy this exhibit too, along with the rest of the zoo! That’s why we’re going to give our contributors a little something back. Anyone contributing over €200 will receive a years family membership. If you contribute over €500, we will give you ten years membership! And if you’re a major contributor, we’ll give you VIP lifetime membership!!

We will put every contributors name on our new exhibit to show our gratitude.

Other Ways You Can Help

Sometimes people just don’t have the funds to contribute, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help;

Get the word out and make some noise about our campaign. Link us on Facebook, Tweet about the campaign, tell everybody!

If you can help us with our fund raising simply click on the link below and follow the instructions

Any donations big or small will be greatly appreciated.

And don’t forget to use  Indiegogo share tools to spread the word.

Now lets build an amazing habitat!


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