All Fota animals safe following Storm Ophelia

All Fota animals safe following Storm Ophelia
The twin Red Panda cubs born at Fota recently. Picture Darragh Kane

No animals were injured during Storm Ophelia after staff secured the site and brought Sumatran tigers, Asiatic lions and giraffes indoors during the worst of the bad weather.

Park director Sean McKeown said staff arrived early on Monday morning to feed animals before Ophelia hit Cork and staff would again be on alert as Storm Brian heads towards Ireland this weekend.

“The majority of animals have indoor access, such as the lions and tigers and they are brought in during a storm. The giraffes go in every night so they are used to going in, they didn't go out on the morning of the storm,” he said.

Seán McKeown, director of Fota Wildlife Park, says that the park has now reopened but staff will be on guard against the effects of Storm Brian.	Picture: David Keane
Seán McKeown, director of Fota Wildlife Park, says that the park has now reopened but staff will be on guard against the effects of Storm Brian. Picture: David Keane

“The staff were in earlier on Monday morning to ensure the feeding of animals before the storm arrived and for the protection of the staff themselves too.” 

While the park avoided any structural damage, it was closed to visitors on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as the clean up began.

“We have probably had 20 plus trees down in the park. There were some trees across roads on the park itself and they have been cleared. We were very lucky that we had no structural damage. Even some of our small sheltered structures escaped damage, like small viewing areas.

“There no injuries to animals or people, thankfully, but it's sad to see trees fall down. Some of the bigger trees are a loss because they are between 100 and 150 years old," he added.

Fota Wildlife Park's Asian lionesses with her litter of cubs born recently. Picture Darragh Kane
Fota Wildlife Park's Asian lionesses with her litter of cubs born recently. Picture Darragh Kane

The park reopened at 10am on Thursday after staff worked tirelessly to clear debris and make the park safe for the public.

Mr McKeown said how much animals would be out over the coming days depends on the amount of rainfall.

In August, a Colobus monkey named Cheeky Chops escaped from the park and spent a night in a public toilet before being returned to his enclosure by staff. He was unharmed.

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