Fota Wildlife Park on track for record number of visitors despite pandemic

The number of VISITORS to Fota Wildlife Park this year will surpass all records, despite being closed for four months, if no further restrictions are introduced in 2021.

Some 470,000 people will have visited the park from January to December, according to park superintendent Sean McKeown.

Mr McKeown made his comments as the park opened a new facility for its eight spider monkeys.

Spider monkeys are the fourth most popular animal in the wildlife park, behind giraffes, cheetahs and lions.

Mr McKeown said the park, which turns 40 in 2023, has big development plans and is integral to creating a tourist hub in East Cork.

“In 1983 East Cork was not a tourist destination. That’s a different matter now and Fota Wildlife Park has been instrumental in bringing about this change.

Patrick O’Donovan, TD, Minister for the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Michael McGrath TD, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform at Fota Wildlife Park, Co Cork for the opening of the new spider monkey habitat which has was funded in part by the OPW. Photo: Darragh Kane

Carrigtwohill Fine Gael councilor Anthony Barry, who was deputizing for the county mayor at the event, agreed with Mr McKeown’s comments.

“East Cork was never a tourist destination, it was a dumping ground for industry, but thankfully that is changing now.”

Mr Barry said that during difficult times of the pandemic, Fota Wildlife Park was a sanctuary for the people of Cork, as well as the animals.

“Fota was there for the locals, it meant so much to people to be able to walk around the complex, park, house and gardens.”

The East Cork councilor also highlighted the range of employment opportunities the business entities are creating for young and old in the area.

“Forward and upward,” Mr. Barry said.

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