Animals Blog

New male European Bison born at Fota Wildlife Park

New male European Bison born at Fota Wildlife Park

Fota Wildlife Park announced the birth of a male European bison calf (Bison bonasus) who was born on Tuesday 23rd of October to mother Nina and father Hyssop.

The young calf joins the 15-strong herd including his father Hyssop who joined the herd over four years ago from Port Lympne as part of the European breeding program.

Fota Wildlife Park is asking the public to suggest names for the new calf and to ultimately help pick the name for the new arrival. Across Fota Wildlife Park’s social media platforms you will be able to suggest the names for the bison calf, our rangers will then narrow down the suggestions to just two names and ask the public to vote for their favourite.  Anyone who suggests the final winning name via Fota’s social media will be placed in a draw to win their choice of either a two-hour Behind the Scenes or VIP Family Wild Experience*. 

You can enter via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram - simply scroll to the relevant post and add name suggest in comments/replies. 

Photos by Jessica Hodnett

European bison are the largest and heaviest land mammal in Europe and were hunted to extinction in the wild in the early 20th century. Due to the cooperative captive breeding programmes of zoos and wildlife parks, including Fota, they have now been re-introduced to the wild and re-established in Poland, Romania and other European countries.

Fota Wildlife Park is well-known for its work with the European Bison. In April 2008 Fota Wildlife Park sent its first European bison to Poland where their descendants are roaming through the Białowieża Forest. In April 2014 Fota Wildlife Park sent two female bison to join a wild-living herd in Vanatori Neamt Nature Park in Romania along with four other captive-bred females from Highland Wildlife Park (Inverness-shire) and Port Lympne and Howletts Wild Animal Parks (Kent).

The European bison is currently listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Vulnerable due to its small population size and Fota participates in the European-wide breeding programme ever since bison first arrived in Cork in 1999. A significant number of calves have been born in the years since and many have been sent overseas to aid in programmes being developed elsewhere as well as to the re-introduction programmes where the Fota descendants are now a part of some of the free-ranging herds in Europe.

The European bison, also known as the ‘wisent’ is a distinctive looking animal with a thickset body, short neck and a visible hump at the shoulder (the forest dwelling European bison are narrower in frame than the American plains bison). As the largest land mammal in Europe, a big bull can weigh up to 1,000 kilos and can reach a height of six feet.



*Voucher will be given for either a Behind the Scenes Wild Experience for up to two adults or VIP Family Wild Experience for up to two adults and four children.

Behind the Scenes Experience is strictly 16 years+

VIP Family Experience is strictly for children 4 years+
(children under 4 years of age are not permitted due to the nature of these tours)

To find out more about Fota Wildlife Park's range of Wild Experiences click here.