Fota Wildlife Park

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Fota Wildlife Park
Date opened June 1983; 33 years ago (1983-06)
Location Fota Island, County Cork, Ireland
Coordinates 51°53′23″N 8°18′41″W / 51.889585°N 8.311276°W / 51.889585; -8.311276Coordinates: 51°53′23″N 8°18′41″W / 51.889585°N 8.311276°W / 51.889585; -8.311276
Land area 100 acres (40 ha)[1]
Number of species 80
Annual visitors 365,396 (2013)[2]

Fota Wildlife Park is a 100-acre (40 ha) wildlife park located on Fota Island, near Carrigtwohill, County Cork, Ireland. Opened in 1983, 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 wallabies, while larger animals, including the giraffe and bison, live in paddocks with barriers that are intended to be unobtrusive for visitors to view the animals in a more natural environment. Fota Wildlife Park also has red pandas, tapirs, siamang gibbons and other types of animals.

History and development[edit]


Fota Island was the former home of the Smith-Barry family, descendants of Normans who came to Ireland in the 12th century.[3] While the family’s lands were originally more extensive, they dwindled over time until they were restricted to Fota Island. The estate was sold to University College Cork in 1975.[4]

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,[1] and the site at Fota Island was proposed.[5] The same year it was formally agreed that the society would establish a wildlife park 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.[4]

Further development[edit]

Cheetah run[edit]

Cheetah at Fota Wildlife Park

Cheetahs, by their nature, will not work for food if they do not have to, and to exercise the animals and for behavioral enrichment reasons, the park installed a "Cheetah Run" in 2006. This device suspends food items on a wire that travels 10 feet (3.0 m) off the ground, at approximately 65 kilometres per hour (40 mph).

Education centre[edit]

As part of the park's conservation and education mandate, an education centre was opened, and runs courses on a range of topics including ecology and conservation. These are aimed at students at primary school and secondary school level, and the centre also runs summer camps during school holidays. Every year, almost 13,000 students pass through Fota's education centre.[citation needed]

Big cats and tropical house[edit]

Fota Wildlife Park celebrated its 30th anniversary on 22 June 2013,[6] and following this anniversary, announced the addition of a "Tropical House" and 27 acre "Asian Sanctuary".[7] As of 2015, habitats for Sumatran tigers, Indian rhinos and lion-tailed macaques were opened,[8][9] with enclosures for Asian lions planned as later additions to the "Asian Sanctuary".[10]

Animals and habitats[edit]

Zebra and foal at Fota Wildlife Park

The animals and birds at Fota Wildlife Park originate from a variety of habitats, many of which are threatened with degradation through human activity. Fota houses animals within the park in zones or habitats with which the species may be associated in the wild:

Hot Deserts
Temperate Grasslands and Deserts
Tropical Savanna
Asian Sanctuary[11]
Free ranging ring tailed lemur
Tropical Forests
Temperate Forests
Female white tailed sea eagle found at Fota Wildlife Park


  1. ^ a b "About Us - The history of Fota Wildlife Park - Our Story". Fota Wildlife Park. Retrieved 17 August 2016. 
  2. ^ "Fota and Dublin Zoo spend €810k on feeding animals". Irish Examiner. 3 December 2014. 
  3. ^ "Fota House History". Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "The History of the Park". Fota Wildlife Park (official site). Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  5. ^ "Meet the animals of Fota — and the people who care for them every day". Irish Examiner. 6 July 2014. 
  6. ^ "Fota Wildlife Park celebrates 30th birthday". June 2013. 
  7. ^ "New arrivals at Fota draw record number of visitors". Irish Examiner. 2 August 2014. 
  8. ^ "The real tigers have arrived at Fota Park". Evening Echo. 30 May 2014. 
  9. ^ "Sumatran Tiger, Fota Wildlife Park, Cork, Ireland". Fota Wildlife Park (Official site). Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "Varadkar to consider funding Fota Wildlife Park development". Irish Times. 25 June 2014. 
  11. ^ "Two female lions to be pride of Fota Wildlife Park". Irish Examiner. 3 June 2016. 

External links[edit]