Fota Wildlife Park 40th Birthday and New Giraffe Calf Born

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Park’s beginnings and celebrates 40 years of conservation, education, research, and breeding of endangered animals.

On June 23rd in 1983 Fota Wildlife Park opened its doors to the public. Since then, approximately 12 million people have visited Fota Wildlife Park and the number of animals in the park has grown from 172 animals (33 species) to 1096 animals (109 species). Fota Wildlife Park has given €4 million to Irish and international conservation programmes and has over seen the births of hundreds of endangered species including 240 cheetahs, 72 Rothschild’s giraffes and 60 European bison. Over the last 40 years, 7914 different animals have called Fota Wildlife Park their home some for a short term and some for their whole life, this does not include the 7500 Natterjack toadlets that were released into the wild in Kerry.

In 1983 the Rothschild’s giraffe along with the zebra and cheetah were some of the first species of animals to come to Fota Wildlife Park and it is very poignant as Fota celebrates its 40th anniversary that the birth of a baby Rothschild’s giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) has been announced.

The female giraffe was born on the 30th April to mother Clodagh and father Ferdie. The new baby giraffe can trace her lineage in Cork back to 1982 when her great great grandmother Frisky came to Fota Wildlife Park from Southampton Zoo in England.

Sean McKeown, Director of Fota Wildlife Park said,

“When I first joined Fota Wildlife Park, over 40 years ago, I never imagined that some of the most iconic species that I had the privilege of working with, such as nature’s giants’, the giraffe, or the world’s fastest, the cheetah, would be threatened with extinction. I am delighted to celebrate Fota at 40 and highlight the real and great successes we have here in terms of breeding endangered animals such as the Rothschild’s giraffe.

We hope that Fota at 40, and, this baby giraffe, will serve as a symbol of our commitment to the conservation of future species. At Fota at 40, we place education, conservation, and research at the forefront of our endeavours, firmly cementing their importance in our collective mission.

During the next 40 years we will expand on our collaborative native species projects already started, helping to save and reverse the decline of Ireland’s emblematic species such as the Corncrake, the Curlew and the Natterjack toad in conjunction with partners and stakeholders such as the National Parks and Wildlife Service, farmers and landowners as it is only by all of us working together that we have a chance of saving the natural world around us”.

The baby giraffe’s mother Clodagh who is eight years old, is part of a long line of giraffes born in Fota Wildlife Park. Clodagh’s mother Aoife was born in Fota Wildlife Park in 2010 and her grandmother Róisín was born there in 1992. The calf’s great great grandmother, Frisky, was one of the founding herd members. The young calf is a pale colour, and she is already displaying similar personality characteristics to her great grandmother Róisín who was a strong fearless female giraffe!

Fota Wildlife Park is inviting the public to name the calf and follow in the tradition of giving the baby calf an Irish name to show that they were born in Cork as many of the giraffes move abroad as part of breeding programmes between Fota Wildlife Park and International Zoos and Wildlife Parks.

Members of the public can vote to name the baby giraffe via the online form below and be in with a chance to win a Conservation annual pass to Fota Wildlife Park.

To commemorate 40 Years of Fota Wildlife Park, from today Friday June 23rd to Sunday June 25th, Fota is hosting is hosting a carnival style weekend of entertainment and games and it is inviting the public to join in its 40th birthday celebrations.

A special talk will take place (included in your entry or admission) with Julian and Stephanie Fennessy of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation on ‘Saving Africa’s Giraffe – A Conservation Success Story‘ at Fota Wildlife Park, Friday June 30th at 1pm, in the Marquee by the Oasis Restaurant, a walk and talk workshop with Peter Dowdall ‘Connecting Plants and Nature‘ on Wednesday, June 28th at 1.30pm.

Throughout the summer a series of wildlife talks, live events, and educational themed weekends will take place all which will celebrate 40 years of Fota.


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