Zookeepers at Fota Wildlife Park have had their hands full with the arrival of tigers, reptiles, butterflies, frogs and record visitor numbers this year.
Last month, 92,000 visitors visited the park — a 35% increase on the same month last year. Numbers are up by almost 20% year on year.
Marketing manager Stephen Ryan said the €2.5m invested in the Tiger Forest and Tropical House this year had played a major role in boosting visitor numbers.
The Tiger Forest, opened at the end of May, is now home to two Sumatran Tigers named Dourga and Denar who are settling well into their new Cork home.
“The arrival of the tigers has created a big buzz about the park,” said Mr Ryan.
He believed the size of the tiger area had impressed people the most, as it gives them great space to move around in a very natural environment.
The Tropical House, a €700,000 280sq m development, is home to three reptiles, nine amphibians, 28 fish and 14 butterfly species. The temperature inside the house, which also has 340 tropical plants is maintained at 26C.
The Tiger Forest at Fota Wildlife Park is the first part of its new Asian Sanctuary development which is situated on an additional 27 acres.
The sanctuary will be kept in line with the existing unique open nature of the wildlife park but will have an authentic Asian ambiance.
Fota Wildlife Park hope to complete work on phase one of the sanctuary in the coming weeks with the introduction of Visayan spotted deer as well as the relocation of many of its Asian species including warty pigs and lion-tailed macaques.
Fota, a non-profit organisation, is hoping visitor numbers will remain high this month and throughout the rest of the year, so work can begin on phase two of the sanctuary which will cost around €2m.
“The record number of visitors will be of huge benefit to our development fund and fingers crossed that they keep growing so that people will be able to see Indian rhino in Cork next year,” said Mr Ryan.
On top of its new attractions Fota Wildlife Park has talks, feeding times, arts and crafts and face painting every day throughout this month.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved