Fota Wildlife Park today announced the arrival of 12 Pot-bellied seahorses, (Hippocampus abdominalis), to the Tropical House at the 100-acre Park.
The 12 seahorses came to the popular visitor attraction from L’ Oceanográfic in Valencia, Spain in January and are made up of seven males and five females. This is the first time seahorses have lived at Fota. The Pot-bellied seahorse is one of the largest types of seahorse in the world averaging about 12 inches in length.
Animal Care Manager, Miguel Bueno said: “Seahorses are hugely popular with the public as these animals are so unique and unusual and their distinctive characteristics totally set them apart from other fish. However, it’s because of this that they are currently under threat as the Curio Trade takes approximately one million seahorses from the wild to sell as souvenirs."
"The Traditional Asian medical trade also takes in excess of 150 million yearly from the wild for use in all types of remedies. It is apt that we are announcing the arrival of the seahorses on Valentine’s Day as they pair for life – however, these 12 seahorses are very young – only one year old so they as yet have to reach sexual maturity. We hope to breed these Pot-bellied seahorses once they do reach adulthood.”
He continued: “We have created a seaweed habitat in an aquarium specially designed for their needs which is set at a temperature of 17°C. Even though there are 12 of them, their camouflage is so effective our visitors will need to allow some time to spot them.”
The Tropical House at Fota Wildlife Park was opened in June 2014 and was funded by SECAD (South & East Cork Area Development). The Tropical House is home to reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, exotic fish and a veterinary facility which allows for injured or sick animals to be treated onsite at Fota Wildlife Park.
Fota Wildlife Park is also extremely saddened to announce the passing of their oldest male Rothschild’s giraffe - Wally, aged 18, who died suddenly on February 12. He was part of the Fota herd for eight years and is survived by four female offspring and was greatly loved by Rangers and public alike.