This past Saturday- Sophia and I picked up my sister in law and her son Matthew and we headed off down to Fota Wildlife Park in Cork. From Nenagh we took the Thurles road over to the motorway and headed straight down and it took less than 2 hours because you don't have to go into Cork at all- just get onto 25 heading to Rosslare and follow the signs. By the way, there is a fantastic new service station in Cashel right off the motorway with Topaz and McDonalds- it was immaculately clean and modern.
Anyway, I hadn't been to Fota for about 5 years- before we even lived in Ireland we had come for a visit but it has been beautifully renovated quite recently. There are loads of parking spaces, a big new entrance, cafe, gift shop, and education centre. At the entrance is this lifesize giraffe family
Right inside across from the cafe is a playground for smallies (the playground for bigger children is further into the park) and there is an enclosure for Meerkats and monkeys. We could have spent hours watching these comical animals. Of course many of us, who were not previously familiar with Meerkats, have come to know (and love them) through the clever advertising campaign of Compare the Market.com- featuring Meerkats.
There were lots of babies playing around and these two characters, below, reminded me of a couple of old guys. Too funny.
This is what you see when you enter the main section of the park - the enclosures are simple and the animals are not caged in but everyone is completely safe.
Rothchild Giraffe's live with Grant's Zebras, Scimitar-horned Oryx, ostriches and emu's. If you go to the Fota website even before you go down there you can see where these animals in regards to being endangered, threatened etc.
Here you can see Fota House which is also a great place to visit but we did not go there this time.
There was a marquee set up with arts and crafts and we all sat down coloured in these owl shapes they had. Sophia is holding up the two we did- hers on the left.
This is where we sat and had lunch- we chose to buy it in the cafe and the kids were delighted as they got nuggets and chips and we were happy because they had lovely salads with a choice of chicken breast or salmon.
As we looped back around this is the view of the cafe- it's a lovely open space with attractive paving.
A sculpture of two cheetahs to mark the officially opening of the education centre by the President in April 2011.
On the day were were there, a new group of cheetahs had just arrived in from Dubai that week- they had never seen grass before and we saw them lying flat out in it- obviously relishing their new life in Ireland. This is only a quick overview- there are penguins, loads of different kinds of monkeys, kangaroos, maras, a tapir, an incubation house where you can see young duck and penguins just out of their eggs. It's a great day out for everyone plus if you have tiny smallies that don't want to walk through the whole thing- there's a train to take you down to the lower section.