FOTA Wildlife Park, one of the country’s biggest attractions, has just opened a weather-proof educational space that cost €750,000.
The 100-acre wildlife park’s new Madagascan Village, on Palm Walk Island, includes two houses, with glass panelling, as indoor accommodation for four species of lemurs, new animal viewing, and indoor visitor area.
The village is the latest development in a series of weatherproof educational areas to enhance the visitor experience in the East Cork park. Visitors will be able to observe the lemurs in their indoor housing, as well as on their island habitats.
The island of Madagascar has lost 90% of its forest cover in the last 200 years. This has resulted in 80% of its animal and plant life being in danger of extinction.
The Madagascan Village will inform and educate the general public about the enormous threat to Madagascan biodiversity and also display some of the Madagascan species that are in peril of extinction.
“It is so important for us to highlight the plight of the Madagascan ecosystems and biodiversity that are under severe threat and to educate the public on the need for conservation globally,” Sean McKeown, director of Fota Wildlife Park, said. “It is also paramount for Fota to have more indoor facilities and attractions, especially during the colder, wetter, off-peak months.
“As a non-profit organisation, dependent on gate receipts, we do all we can to encourage people to visit throughout the year.”
The Minister of State for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin, officially opened the attraction on Saturday.
“I am delighted to officially open what is a significant investment in the park today,” he said.
“The work that is being done here is incredibly important, not only in terms of being a global leader in conservation work, but also as a major visitor attraction in the south-east of Ireland.
“Not only do the visitors, holidaymakers, and foreign tourists that visit Fota Wildlife Park contribute financially to the region, but Fota is also a significant employer in long-term sustainable tourism in the east Cork region,” he added.
As well as featuring the two lemur viewing-houses, the main house of the Madagascan Village is an interactive hub, where the public can find out about the various conservation projects that Fota undertakes, particularly in Madagascar.
Other species at the Madagascan Village will include blue-eyed black lemurs, red-bellied lemurs, and also fish, amphibians, reptiles, and insects.