The development at Fota Wildlife Park involves the upgrading of both car parks, the building of a new entrance area, a new shop and café, new administration buildings, new customer toilets, a new primate exhibit and also the development of a dedicated education complex. The project which began in December is expected to be completed by the end of October with the car parks refurbished in time for the Easter Holidays at the end of March.
Head of Marketing for the park Stephen Ryan believes it will be a huge transformation, "the new entrance area will be a welcoming open space with five ticket windows, one of which will be a dedicated member's entrance in busy times, we hope this will significantly reduce queuing and improve customer service. Once through the entrance gates you will enter a large, landscaped public plaza area that will be complimented with a new gift shop and cafe overlooking an exciting new Sulawesi Crested Macaque exhibit."
The master plan for the project was prepared by world renowned Zoo Architects Jones & Jones of Seattle, USA with building work being carried by Midland Construction. It will be the single largest change to the Park since it opened in 1983 and will cost in the region of €4million to complete.
The new residents at the park, the Sulawesi Crested Macaque are highly social and inquisitive and enjoy watching humans as much as humans enjoy watching them. To compliment this new exhibit Fota Wildlife are also building a new play ground in which young children will be able to complete tasks using the same skills of balance, agility and strength that the Sulawesi Macaques are famous for.
Mr Ryan added "this new development has been a couple of years in the making and we hope it will be a way of saying thanks to the people who visit the park year on year especially our members who continue to give us great support. We hope that the new facilities will also attract new visitors to the park and also help increase our visitors numbers along the lines of what happened in 2009 when we bucked the trend and increased our numbers by 5% to 347,000 from 331,000 in 2008."
The final piece of the new development will see the creation of a dedicated education complex with the old shop building creating two classrooms to add to the existing centre which catered for 10,500 students in 2009. The overall project has also been designed to be highly energy efficient using wood pellets to heat the buildings and hot water will be supplied by Solar Thermal Panels. All of this technology will be used to teach visiting students about the benefits of Green Technology and the importance of reducing our impact on the planet.
An animated view of the new entrance can be seen on Fota Wildlife Park's You Tube Channel