Fota Wildlife Park is currently enjoying something of a baby boom following the recent births of three Scimitar-horned oryx calves and two European bison calves all arriving within weeks of each other.
The animals arrived in the hoof stock section — which looks after all the ruminants such as the giraffe and zebra.
Two female European bison (Bison bonasus) and three Scimitar-horned Oryx (Oryx dammah), two females and a male, have been born since the beginning of the month.
These two species are important to the conservation work that the not-for-profit Fota Wildlife Park does as both species were previously extinct in the wild.
Cooperative breeding and re-introduction programmes, including with animals specifically from Fota have helped ensure that bison and Oryx herds now live free roaming in parts of Europe and North Africa.
Aidan Rafferty, Lead Ranger said about the recent births: “As a conservation charity it’s very important to see the successful breeding programmes continuing here, especially when these species were extinct in the wild.”
“The descendants of animals who were re-located from Fota Wildlife Park have become part of the mission to create viable and self-sustaining free ranging bison and Oryx herds.”
Scimitar-horned Oryx, Joffrey, is the father to the three Oryx calves and he arrived at Fota in December 2016 from Marwell Zoo as part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme (EEP).
Fota Wildlife Park has had considerable success with this species as a male born at the Park in 2003 has been re-introduced into the wild in Dghoumes National Park, Tunisia.
That male became the dominant bull in a group of 17 animals and has successfully sired a number of calves. One of the new Oryx mothers was born at Fota and she gave birth to her first female calf on the 16th June.
The dominant European bison bull, Hyssop, who joined the herd four years ago from Port Lympne Wildlife Reserve in the UK, is father to the two new female bison calves.
A significant number of Bison calves have been born since 1999 when they first arrived in Fota Wildlife Park.
Many have been sent overseas to aid in programmes being developed elsewhere as well as to the reintroduction programmes where the Fota progeny are now a part of some of the free-ranging herds in Europe.