Government urged to intervene to ensure future of Fota

Government urged to intervene to ensure future of Fota

Sean McKeown, park director, Fota Wildlife Park, Co. Cork said  that they are hopeful of a reopening in the coming weeks, even if restrictions within the 5km limit remain. Picture Denis Minihane

A Cork TD has called on the government to intervene to ensure that Fota Wildlife Park’s future can be secured following fears of the impact of Covid-19 on the attraction.

Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire described Fota Wildlife Park as an extremely important amenity for the people of Cork and beyond and expressed concern for the park’s future.

It comes following an interview with RTÉ in which the impact of the pandemic on the wildlife park was discussed.

Deputy Ó Laoghaire said he was "extremely concerned"  that in the interview the Park’s Director had said that Fota may face permanent closure unless the park reopens soon and receives income. 

Acknowledging the recent funding that was allocated to Fota in December, Mr Ó Laoghaire said that "more must be done here to ensure that the future of the park is secured".

Given the uncertainty of the Covid situation and future restrictions, we do not know when the park will be able to reopen, and it is clear that further government intervention may be needed to ensure we do not lose Fota Wildlife Park for good.” 

The park closed in early January as a result of the increasing number of Covid-19 cases.

Speaking to The Echo, Director of Fota Wildlife Park, Sean McKeown said that they are hopeful of a reopening in the coming weeks, even if restrictions within the 5km limit remain.

“We were opened within the second lockdown without any issues, so it is more about getting opened at a slow pace, as we did on previous occasions,” he said.

Mr McKeown said that visitor numbers were down between 17 and 18 per cent last year when compared to 2019.

He noted the benefit of the recent funding which has helped them during the closure and reiterated hopes that visitors will be able to return to the park in the coming weeks.

“We will have faced a very difficult year and it stands and we hope that with visitor numbers that that will get better.

“We can’t predict what the future is, and we can’t predict Covid-19 and how it has progressed. We hope that vaccinations numbers continue to grow- that that will assist in getting us back to some sort of a normality,” he added.

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