FOTA Wildlife Park is planning a €16m upgrade which will see the addition of a new restaurant and conference centre as well as a host of new animals.
Asian bears, Chinese Takin and a Madagascan Village are all set to be introduced to one of Cork’s most popular attractions as part of the new plans.
The upgrades will take place on a phased basis over a five-year period with the overall aim of bringing in more than 500,000 visitors annually.
Annual visitor numbers at the park have risen from around 350,000 in 2010 to 460,000 today.
Park director Sean McKeown told the Evening Echo that the wildlife park plans to construct 17 new buildings, 13 of which will be used to house animals.
The plans include a new restaurant, larger than the current one, on the first floor of a new two-storey building, with an exhibition area on the ground floor.
New internal roads and pathways, along with a raised walkway, are also set to be constructed.
Also in the plans is a Madagascan village to provide indoor accommodation for the lemurs and two new ponds which will connect to a wetland area.
Previous works in the park in 2013 found archaeological evidence of a small settlement, reportedly from the time of Christ up until the seventh century.
This encampment will form the basis of a new exhibition at the park, which will also explore the story of the colonisation of Ireland by plants, animals and humans.
Opened in 1983, Fota Wildlife Park has become one of Cork’s biggest attractions.