Ireland’s wildest visitor attraction is hoping for a surge in American visitors after a quirky video clip of some of its inhabitants joining a fun-run was screened on a prime-time US television show.
Viewers of the legendary Good Morning America show picked the 39-second clip of a section of Fota Wildlife Park’s recent four-mile Cheetah Run, which winds its way through the park, at number five in its “play of the day” slot.
The clip was recorded by the park’s marketing manager, Stephen Ryan, on his iPhone last month.
It shows runners passing the ostrich enclosure before panning to show three ostriches in full stride running alongside the competitors, followed by a small herd of speedy zebras.
It was screened coast-to-coast during Monday’s edition of Good Morning America to an estimated audience of about 6m.
“America — you loved this,” says one of the hosts.
“It’s wildlife getting in to its stride. It’s pastoral, serene, and lovely. You gotta go to Cork.”
Mr Ryan said he was absolutely delighted with the exposure for the park, for Cork, and for Ireland.
“A lot of the media in the US is dominated by TV — TV is king — and this is marketing gold for us,” he said.
“So to think that this clip was screened to about 6m viewers across the States as they ate breakfast is fantastic. It’s certainly the biggest exposure we’ve ever had in the US. Tourism Ireland would pay a fortune to get coverage like this.”
Americans account for about 3% of the park’s annual visitor numbers and Mr Ryan said he hoped this exposure would help boost that figure.
Several Irish people living in the US saw the footage and went to Fota’s Facebook page to say they had seen it.
The footage has also been featured by the Huffington Post, the Live Leaks website, ITN news, and on YouTube’s home page.
It’s not the first time an East Cork attraction has been featured on a top-rating US television show.
In 2010, comedian and chat show host Ellen DeGeneres interviewed Crystal Swing — the three-piece family band from Lisgoold — after the video of their hit version of ‘He Drinks Tequila’, became an international YouTube sensation.
The fun-run footage was screened as Fota Wildlife Park confirmed that Sunday was its busiest day since Apr 2007, with more than 5,500 people visiting the park that day alone, and 12,000 people visiting over the bank holiday weekend.
The park is now gearing up for celebrations to mark its 30th anniversary.
A fundraising gourmet barbecue takes place in the park on Jun 22, with a major family fun day featuring Cork Circus planned for Jun 23.
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