Fine Gael TD for Cork East, David Stanton, has said Government funding would be a lifeline for Fota Wildlife Park in dealing with the challenges presented by COVID closures.
Deputy Stanton said: “I welcome confirmation today from the Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, that he hopes his Department will be able to offer short term financial support to Fota Wildlife Park. Minister of State for the OPW, Patrick O’Donovan, also confirmed that the OPW will support the Government’s response.
“I raised this matter in the Dáil today as support from Government is crucial if Fota is to continue to remain a popular destination for local and foreign tourists in East Cork.
“Zoos, wildlife parks and aquariums such as Fota Wildlife Park have seen a significant drop in income as a result of closures due to Covid-19 restrictions, yet maintenance and animal feeding costs continue to accumulate. This drop in funding has in turn caused serious challenges in meeting the costs of conservation work and animal welfare activities.
“There are some 60 plus licensed zoos and aquariums in Ireland, from local open farms to national zoos and wildlife parks, which attract millions of visitors annually. In addition to the tourism benefits, these attractions also provide a vital service in the protection of biodiversity and conservation and they also serve to increase public awareness of environmental issues.
“Fota Wildlife Park attracted roughly 475,000 visitors to East Cork last year and further supports are vital in ensuring that the park remains viable.”