Murphy, Edmund Terence (‘Terry’) (1917–95), zookeeper, was born 28 July 1917 in Dublin, son of Edmund Murphy, civil servant, and Lizzie Murphy (née Shaw). Expelled from school for truancy at 15, he worked as a draughtsman for an engineering firm before employment in public relations with a Dublin chocolate firm. With the outbreak of the second world war he moved to England to enlist as a pilot in the RAF. Rejected because he was colour-blind, he worked in advertising before returning to Dublin, where he made an unsuccessful attempt to become a toy manufacturer. A family friend rescued his career; he was introduced to Cedric Flood, superintendent of Dublin Zoo, and employed as his assistant in June 1943. He was responsible at first mainly for administration, but his natural fascination with animals soon ensured his close contact with his charges – so close, in fact, that his first experience of practical zookeeping was the removal of a thorn from an elephant's foot under the sceptical eyes of his staff. He lived at first in an apartment in his father's house at Appian Way before moving (1946) to Blackhorse Avenue, very close to the zoo. Exhibiting his public-relations skills, he publicised Dublin Zoo's first delivery of chimpanzees by air from America in 1946. After a period as acting superintendent in 1952, he was appointed superintendent in 1957.
Always concerned with the promotion of Dublin Zoo's public image, he compiled the Official guide to the Dublin Zoo (1960). His great enthusiasm informed his RTÉ television series ‘Animal trail’ and his autobiography, Some of my best friends are animals (1979), an amusing account of his struggle to contain his inmates' ingenious attempts to escape; his central achievement was to transfer animals from cages to open-plan environments, a strategy that resulted in his development of Fota Wildlife Park in Cork from 1979. Realising that Fota Island's open space would be an ideal environment for giraffe, oryx, and zebra, he also instituted a world-class cheetah-breeding programme. The park opened to the public in 1983 as a joint project of the Zoological Society of Ireland and UCC. Murphy retired as director of Dublin Zoo in 1984 and died on 29 July 1995 at St Vincent's Private Hospital, Dublin, after a long fight against cancer. His wife Betty (née Duffy) survived him.