Fota Wildlife Park
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2012)|
|Date opened||Summer 1983|
|Location||Fota Island, County Cork, Ireland|
|Land area||75 acres (30 ha)|
|Number of species||80|
Fota Wildlife Park is a 75-acre (30 ha) wildlife park located on Fota Island, near Carrigtwohill, County Cork, Ireland. The park is home to nearly 30 mammal and 50 bird species. Some of the animals roam freely with the visitors, such as the ring-tailed lemurs and squirrel monkeys, while larger animals, including the giraffe and bison, live in paddocks with unobtrusive barriers to allow viewing the animals in a more natural environment. Fota Wildlife Park also has red pandas, tapirs, siamang gibbons and many other types of animals.
Fota Island was the former home of the Smith-Barry family, descendants of Normans who came to Ireland in 1185. In those days the family’s lands were very extensive but they dwindled over the years until they were restricted to Fota Island. The estate was sold to University College Cork in 1975.
In the meantime, Dublin Zoo had reached maximum development with the space available. So in 1979, the director of Dublin Zoo proposed to the Zoological Society of Ireland Council that a wildlife park should be established. It was thought that it should be quite different in concept from a conventional zoo or safari park. It was then that Fota Island was proposed.
That same year it was formally agreed that the society would establish a wildlife park on 70 acres (28 ha) at Fota. University College Cork offered the land free of charge under license agreement. Fota Wildlife Park became a joint project of the Zoological Society of Ireland and University College Cork. Fundraising committees were set up in both Dublin and Cork. All the funds for the development were raised from public subscriptions, apart from a grant from Bord Fáilte for the perimeter fence.
The first animals started to arrive to Fota Wildlife Park in late 1982, and Fota Wildlife Park was opened in the summer of 1983 by the then President of Ireland, Dr. Patrick Hillery.
Fota Wildlife Park celebrated its 30th anniversary with a party on 22 June 2013.
List of animals
The animals and birds at Fota Wildlife Park originate from a variety of habitats, most of which are threatened with degradation through human activity.
Below is the list of these habitats and their associated animals at Fota Wildlife Park:
- Hot Deserts
- Temperate Grasslands and Deserts
- Tropical Savanna
- Tropical Forests
- Brazilian tapir
- Ring-tailed lemur
- Black and white ruffed lemurs
- Red ruffed lemurs
- Colombian black spider monkey
- White faced saki
- Squirrel monkey
- Lion-tailed macaques
- Black and white colobus
- Siamang gibbon
- White-handed gibbon
- Agile gibbon
- Temperate Forests
Cheetahs, by their very nature, will not work for their food if they do not have to. In an effort to exercise them, and as part of their behavioural enrichment programme, the zoo installed a "Cheetah Run" in 2006. This device ensures the cheetahs work for their food by suspending it on a wire that travels 10 feet (3.0 m) off the ground, at approximately 65 kilometres per hour (40 mph).
Asian Sanctuary and Tropical House
To celebrate the park's 30th anniversary in 2013, Fota Wildlife park will be expanding with the newly opened Tropical House and the Asian Sanctuary which will be opening between 2014 and 2018. Sumatran tigers, Asian lions and Indian rhinos will be some of the Asian Sanctuary's highlights. The lion tailed macaques and the red panda which were already in Fota will also be moving there.
Courses at the Education Centre cover a broad range of topics including ecology and conservation and are aimed at students at both primary school and secondary school level. In addition to this, the education centre provides summer camps that run through the school holidays. Every year, almost 13,000 students pass through Fota’s education centre.