I have visited Fota Wildlife Park ever since I was a child, as I imagine anyone who lives in Cork has. I decided to visit again recently as there has been a lot of change in the park since the last time I was there, which was probably 2008 on my work experience with the school.
I heard great things about the park in the past year, they are near completion of a 27 acre development that focuses on Asian animals and plants and have added some impressive animals such as Sumatran Tigers and Indian Rhinoceroses to their family. It’s is a lot of space considering the Wildlife park is a total of 75 acres.
Our local taxi man, Adam, was on hand when we got tired.
I live quite close to Fota so we drove from my house, but there is a train line from Cork city that brings you right up into the park (literally hop off the train and you’re there). A quick note for anyone driving is to make sure you have 3 euros for the exit fee of the car park and make sure they are 1 and 2 euro coins as the machine does not accept smaller change. There are signs pointing this out as you drive into the park, but it can be easily missed if you are excited to get going.
Entrance fees are 15.50e per adult, 11e for a student and 10e for a child. The girl on the till was great, we hadn’t asked for student prices (because we’re airheads) but she obviously clicked we were around that age and prompted us about the reduced price for students. It was something really small, but I thought it was kind. I thought the entry prices was quite expensive at first.. but when I thought about it again I realised that the money goes into the park and conservation projects (plus there are great packages for families). You can actually use the receipt from your trip and offset it against the price of a membership if you were unsure of whether to commit to one on your first visit to the park. The opening times, prices, and behind the scenes packages that the park offer are available here: http://www.fotawildlife.ie/opening-times-prices
There is a huge variety of animals from all ecosystems in Fota when you enter the park the focus on animals in huge common areas and this leads down to the Asian Sanctuary. Right now in spring/summer 2016 there is still a lot of development being done in the sanctuary but the Indian Rhinos and the Sumatran Tigers are located here. There is unreal potential in the area and I know it will be amazing looking when it’s finished. Once you come out of the Asian Sanctuary you are back in the ‘original’ park with the addition of a Tropical house with frogs such as the Red-Eyed Tree Frog, Elongated Tortoises and an Aquarium that includes Clown Fish (Nemo!).
Further along, there are primates such as Ring Tailed Lemurs, Spider Monkeys and Colobus Monkeys, as well as birds where you can find many common species but also Flamingos, Pelicans, Humboldt Penguins and a White Tailed Sea Eagle. Around the park Wallabies, Kangaroos, Peacocks and Mara’s are left to roam free and it provides a real integrative experience for people I think. Instead of only seeing animals in enclosures you can see how relaxed most animals are around people when left to their own devices.
Trying and failing to make new friends!
The last part of the park brings you back to open area where there are Rothchild Giraffes, Grants Zebras and Ostriches. You’ll also find Cheetahs, a hatchery where there are often eggs being incubated, or there are newly hatched chicks or ducklings, and finally Red Pandas. If you are in this area in the evening time from 4-5 PM it’s possible you’ll see the Giraffes ‘being put to bed’.
I think he was camera shy.
If you’re like me (which you’re probably not because I’m a little odd) and you want to find out if they have a favourite animal of yours, there’s a great list of the flora and fauna that the park has to offer available here: http://www.fotawildlife.ie/animals-plants My spirit animal is a Meerkat so I hear any word of them being somewhere I have to go see them.
It’s Sergei,Oleg and Alexandr!
There are good facilities in the park. There are 4 play areas for children – 1 at the entrance to the park by the reception and gift shop, one in the Asian Sanctuary, one where the main restaurant is located and the last is after you pass the Cheetahs. There are plenty of bins available (recycling as well as wet waste). Also if you have smallies with you and you feel you won’t make it to the end of the park walking there’s a ‘train’ that loops around the park, I think it is free of charge .
The park’s Facebook page often runs competitions for entrance tickets or recently (April 2016) offered a weekend break in Cork with the Ambassador Hotel in Cork City. If you love seeing animal pictures/videos (both beautiful and funny) they are also a great page to follow as they often put up media that visitors send in. It’s well worth a like to keep up with the prizes, events and photos. Here’s the link to their page: https://www.facebook.com/FOTAWILDLIFE/?fref=ts
Here are some other handy links
- Train timetable for Cork to Cobh (this train stops in Fota) http://www.irishrail.ie/media/13_mlw-cobh-midleton_25052015.pdf
- Ticket prices http://www.irishrail.ie/fares-and-tickets/cork-cobh-midleton