Fota Wildlife Park on track for record visitors despite pandemic

The number of VISITORS to Fota Animal 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 an integral part of creating a tourist hub in East Cork.

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

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

Carrigtwohill Fine Gael councilor Anthony Barry, who deputized for the county mayor at the event, endorsed Mr McKeown’s comments.

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

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

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

The East Cork City Councilor also highlighted the range of employment opportunities that business entities create for young and old in the region.

“Forward and up,” Mr. Barry said.


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