Fota Island in Cork harbour which was formerly a private estate is set to become a wildlife park.

The seven hundred and fifty acre Fota Island was for eight hundred years the home of the Smith-Barry family. In the decades to come however many different types of residents will roam freely here, as the island which was acquired last year by University College Cork (UCC) has partnered with the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland to create the first wildlife park on the island of Ireland. 

Fundraising for the project has commenced with a national children's art competition to highlight the project, and last night saw the winning entries exhibited in Cork’s Imperial Hotel.  

The park’s planned breeding programme for exotic and endangered species will become part of an international network of zoos and animal parks already engaged in such conservation measures.  

UCC Fota Director Professor Tom Raftery is hopeful that the public will be able to visit Fota as soon as 1983, and while the range of animals will be quite similar to what can be seen in the capital city, there will be some new arrivals to Ireland, 

It's going to be quite different from the Dublin Zoo.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 26 February 1981. The reporter is Tom Mac Sweeney.