Fota Wildlife Park, Ireland | CruiseBe
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Fota Wildlife Park

Activities, Natural sights
wildlife, zoo

Fota Wildlife Park is a 75-acre (30 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


Fota Island was the former home of the Smith-Barry family, descendants of Normans who came to Ireland in the 12th century. 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.

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, and the site at Fota Island was proposed. The 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.

Further development

Cheetah run

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

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.

Big cats and tropical house

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

List of animals

The animals and birds at Fota Wildlife Park originate from a variety of habitats, many of which are threatened with degradation through human activity. Below is the list of some of these habitats and some associated animals in the park:

Hot Deserts
  • Scimitar-horned oryx
Temperate Grasslands and Deserts
  • Mara
Tropical Savanna
  • Indian peafowl
  • Emu
  • Ostrich
  • Helmeted guineafowl
  • Rothschild giraffe
  • Common zebra
  • Cheetah
Tropical Forests
  • Macaws
  • Brazilian tapir
  • Ring-tailed lemur
  • Black and white ruffed lemurs
  • Red ruffed lemurs
  • Black spider monkey
  • White faced saki
  • Squirrel monkey
  • Lion-tailed macaques
  • Black and white colobus
  • Siamang gibbon
  • White-handed gibbon
  • Agile gibbon
Temperate Forests
  • Bennett's wallaby
  • Eastern grey kangaroo
  • European bison
  • Red panda
  • Capybara
  • Chilean flamingo
  • Lechwe
  • Great white pelican
  • White-tailed sea eagle
  • Humboldt penguin
  • Common seal​

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