Pope Francis "pulled the rug" from under Dublin Zoo after they struggled through the Beast from the East in the winter and an incredibly hot summer. 

The director of Dublin Zoo has placed some of the blame for their reduced 2018 numbers on Pope Francis and his August visit to Ireland, claiming that the Pontiff "pulled the rug" from under the popular tourist attraction with his event in its home, Phoneix Park. 

The zoo is expecting to record a drop in numbers of 100,000 for the past year, blaming the loss of the last week in August due to the Pope's visit for the dip. The attraction had also had to battle through a harsher than average Irish winter with the Beast from the East and a summer heatwave.

Read more: Animals in Dublin Zoo given ice pops, mud baths in effort to combat heatwave

It had been forced to close its doors for three days during the Pope's visit but uncertainty about access to Phoneix Park earlier in the week also saw a drop off in numbers. 

 “We took a hit. We’re down. We’re still above the million but we’re probably down 100,000 visitors," said director Leo Oosterweghel, who has been at the helm of the zoo for 18 years. 

“First there was the extraordinary winter, it was hard to recover,” he added. 

“Then we had this incredibly hot summer.

“Then his Holiness arrived the last week of August - we were closed for that whole period.

Read more: Pope Francis’s 36-hr visit to Ireland to cost €32 million

“People weren’t sure,” he said.

“We lost the last week of August which is our biggest week.

“The end of the school holidays ... if the weather is good you have 10,000 people here in one day so we lost out.”

“(We had) the bad winter, the hot summer and his Holiness who pulled the rug a little bit.

“We’re still in the black, we’re still in surplus.

“We’re still over a million - it just shows you how robust the business is.”

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