Fota Wildlife Park has lodged plans for a massive 27-acre expansion that will clear the way for the arrival of tigers, lions, rhinos and rare giant pandas.
The extension will add approximately 40% to Fota’s overall size and make it one of the largest wildlife parks in Europe.
It is hoped that the first phase of the €6m project, involving the addition of Sumatran tigers, will be complete and open to the public by next summer. Two tigers, currently in a French zoo, have been earmarked for Fota.
The wildlife park has also confirmed plans to secure two rare giant pandas and will be using Cork’s twinning relationship with Shanghai to strengthen its case.
Senior government officials have already been brought on board to support the campaign, but it is expected to be a difficult process to complete with just a handful of pandas in zoos outside Asia.
In the meantime, it is planned to introduce a number of new Asian animals to Fota, many of which are endangered.
As well as Sumatran tigers, it is planned to introduce Asiatic tigers, rhinoceroses, Japanese cranes, Takin antelopes and Asian bears, if the plans to bring pandas to Cork are unsuccessful.
The Asian sanctuary site is being developed behind the penguin and bison enclosures.
It will include 13 new buildings for animals, two new lakes, a second entrance building, a small souvenir shop and a viewing building.
Stephen Ryan of Fota Wildlife Park said it hadthey have just lodged plans for the exciting project and plan to start work immediately once planning permission is granted. “Once complete the addition of the Asian sanctuary will make Fota one of the biggest wildlife parks in Europe. It will add about a mile of extra footpaths,” added Mr Ryan. and increase the average time to complete the park from three hours to five.”
Given the increase in size, Fota is considering introducing a two-day pass for visitors to give them time to completely cover the park.
The park is already one of Ireland’s most popular attractions drawing almost 400,000 visitors each year. Source: The Evening Echo