See you later, Alligator…In a while, crocodile!



See you later, Alligator….. In a while, Crocodile!


This Sunday, January 29th, we are bringing you an exclusive opportunity to peak ‘behind the scenes’ at The National Reptile Zoo as we prepare 3 of our Salt Water Crocodiles (Crocodylus Porosus) for their next big journey!


saltee under water over water


We made headlines back in 2014 when the 6 juvenile crocs made the huge trip from Auckland to Sydney, to Abu Dhabi to London and finally landed in Dublin. (Click here to see our Salties being introduced to their new home).

Irish Examiner front page 2014

Irish Times front page 2014


The 6 juvenile crocs were the first ever crocs to be exported from New Zealand after Butterfly Creek Zoo, Auckland, no longer had the space to house them. Salt Water Crocs can reach lengths of over 6m and weigh up to 1000kg.

Since making their incredibly long journey half way round the world, two  of the salties were donated to zoos in the UK, two went on temporary loan to Dingle Aquarium and were recently returned to us here in The National Reptile Zoo in Gowran, Co.Kilkenny.

swimmiung with saltees


So what’s next for these well traveled crocs? 


This spring will see 3 of our 4 Salties travel once again, this time they will be making their way to their new home in a crocodile zoo in Denmark.

We will be sad to see them go, but we’re confident that we have a chosen a brilliant new home for them!

saltee 1 jpg


As they will be leaving us in the coming weeks, we decided to let you guys have an exclusive look at what goes on behind the scenes in The National Reptile Zoo by carrying out their January morphometric recording at our animal encounter arena! That’s right, for one day only you will get to see these incredible crocodiles up close and out of the water as our keepers talk you through the morphometric (weight and length / growth rate) recording process, in preparation for their big move!

saltee 2

There will be 4 chances throughout the day to take part in this exclusive experience  (1.30pm, 2.30pm , 3.30pm and the final chance at 4.30pm).


See you later, Alligator….. In a while, Crocodile!

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2016 – The Best Bits

2016 has been a year of many highs and lows and as it draws to a close we’d like to take the opportunity to take a positive look back on our best bits!


Above: RTE filming The Pet Island series with our American Alligators in January.

Below: To celebrate our 10th birthday back in March, we took CoCo the Croc on an adventure around Ireland!




In July our brand new Tropical Walk-Through Dome opened, housing Green Iguanas, Tortoise, Soft Shell Turtles and Green Anoles!


In August, our Zoo to You team had the pleasure of meeting Marissa Carter (Cocoa Brown Founder, Girl Boss and an absolute sweetheart) in Kilkenny’s Lyrath Estate Hotel. We even helped her to get over her fear over spiders with a little encouragement from Rosie, our Chilean Rose Tarantula!


September was the month of Today FM’s fund raising initiative, Dare to Care, for the Irish Cancer Society.



Above: Our animal collections manager, Jonny, took part in #WeddingDressWednesday to help raise some money for The Irish Cancer Society.

Below: Comedian and all round nice guy, Neil Delamere, popped in to The National Reptile Zoo to face his fear of scorpions and ended up feeding our Alligators too, all as part of the Dare to Care initiative!



October brought with it a whole host of fun for The National Reptile Zoo including eating insects to promote insect protein use and our annual Halloween Spooktacular!


Above: Staff dinner in Kyteler’s Inn, Kilkenny.

Below: Photos from our Halloween Spooktacular event that saw the zoo over run with Zombie Zoo Keepers, a special appearance from Mrs.Brown and’ Poop’ tea..literally.

Katelyn Hennessy and her dad James eating scorpions during Halloween Night at the Reptile Village. Photo: Pat Moore.

Katelyn Hennessy and her dad James eating scorpions during Halloween Night at the Reptile Village. Photo: Pat Moore.

Evanna Minogue tries out handling a snake during the Halloween Night at the Reptile Zoo. Photo: Pat Moore.

Evanna Minogue tries out handling a snake during the Halloween Night at the Reptile Zoo. Photo: Pat Moore.

Dylan Kirby and Brooklyn Hennessy with a snake during Halloween Night at Reptile Village. Photo: Pat Moore.

Dylan Kirby and Brooklyn Hennessy with a snake during Halloween Night at Reptile Village. Photo: Pat Moore.

Nicola Whitty and Gilli Skelton enjoying tea and insects at the Halloween Night in the Reptile Village. Photo: Pat Moore.

Nicola Whitty and Gilli Skelton enjoying tea and insects at the Halloween Night in the Reptile Village. Photo: Pat Moore.

(Halloween photos above: Pat Moore)


October also hosted the annual Pet Expo in the RDS and we had a great photo shoot with the very talented, up and coming photographer behind photography company Eirial Photography.



Above: Pet Expo 2016 at the RDS, Dublin.

Below: Some behind the scenes pictures of our photo-shoot and some of the finished products!





November is one of our busiest months of the entire year as our Zoo To You Team are on the road almost every single day, visiting schools all over the country with some reptiles for Science Week Month! This year we visited schools in Athlone, Kerry, Kilkenny, Cork, Dublin, Longford, Kildare, Waterford and more!

Here’s a snap of our Zoo Director, James, giving a lecture to the UCD verterinary students!


Black Friday also gave us the perfect excuse to show our appreciation to you loyal customers by slashing our admission prices to just €2!!


In December, Zoo Director, James, attended Venom Day at Bangor University!


Finally, we celebrated the end of another year of The National Reptile Zoo with a delicious meal in Paris Texas, Kilkenny.




We’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support throughout 2016 and we look forward to seeing you in 2017.

Wishing you a very Happy New Year

James and staff at The National Reptile Zoo

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Zoo News!

Hi Guys,


It’s been a while since we posted anything on our blog as we’ve been super busy over the last few months, so we decided we’d write a little post to tell you what we’ve been up to!



There was a sound of wedding bells, accompanied by the sound of laughter as our Animal Collections Manager, Jonny, took part in the Dare to Care fundraising initiative run by Today FM in aid of The Irish Cancer Society!


Yep, Jonny was a blushing bride here in The National Reptile Zoo as the rest of the team fussed over him on his special day! We had so much fun making his ‘wedding dress’ and watching him carry out his zoo keeper responsibilities in a wedding gown fit for a princess! Who was the designer we hear you ask? Zoo director James did his best Vera Wang impression as he cut, sewed and pinned fabric to create a dress that can only be described as a work of art  😛



Jonny raised some much needed funds for The Irish Cancer Society and we are all so proud of him! If you’d like to make a donation to The Irish Cancer Society, you can do so here.







We also had a very familiar face in with us as part of the Dare to Care initiative too, Today FM’s very own Neil Delamere travelled down to our zoo here in Gowran to face his fear of scorpions, but we couldn’t have him travel all the way down here without getting him in to feed the alligators too, he was a little scared but put on a brave face as he conquered his fears with ease (for the most part)!




It was so wonderful to see so many people across the country take part in such a worthy fundraising initiative, and we were thrilled to play a part in it!

We also spent a day with the super talented photographer, Mike,  from Eirial Photography  to get some new promotional photos for both our Zoo here in Gowran and our Lost World exhibit in Drogheda! We can’t wait to share the photos with you all in the coming weeks!

Here’s a sneak peek of Mike snapping pics of Michael, our Yellow Foot Tortoise inside our new Tropical Walk-Through Dome!




Last weekend our Zoo To You Team were in Dublin’s RDS to attend the annual Family Pet Expo. We attend the Pet Expo every year and it’s always so great to meet so many of you guys over the course of the two days. This year was so busy we literally didn’t stop! We brought along some of our scaly friends, as well as a couple of critters including a tarantula and a scorpion too!





We had a great time and hope you all did too!



Our team had a really nice meal in Kytelers Inn, Kilkenny this month too. The staff were super friendly, the music was great and the food was delicious, big thank you to the team in there!



Our big news this month is the launch of our 2016 Halloween Spooktacular, which is taking place on Saturday October 29th from 7-9pm!



Are you brave enough to tour our zoo in the dark, meet our Zombie Zoo Keepers AND taste some creepy critters including crickets, beetles and centipedes? If so, this event is not to be missed!!




Fun for all the family, there will be prizes for best costumes, an alligator feeding display, animal encounter sessions, ghoulish games and sinister snacks, all in the darkness of night, with only a glow stick as your guide!


Tickets must be pre-booked as spaces are limited, you can purchase yours here.  €10 pp or €35 per family of four!



James, our Zoo Director, also attended a conference for croc specialists in the UK last weekend too, so we’ll be writing a full post about that next week and we’ll be telling you all about the conservation message behind our bite-a-bug section of our Halloween Spooktacular, stay tuned!!



Until next time,


The National Reptile Zoo Team 🙂

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Life with The National Reptile Zoo

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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