Brown bears are back in the wild again in Ireland along with three wolves, a lynx and some monkeys.
The three bears, the wolves, the lynx and monkeys are among the animals at Wild Ireland, a new wildlife sanctuary at Dundrain near Burnfoot in Co Donegal.
Wild Ireland is the realisation of a childhood dream for solicitor and zoologist, Killian McLaughlin.
He has been rescuing and rehabilitating animals since he was a boy in his back yard in Buncrana but he wanted to give them more space and ultimately see animals that have become extinct in Ireland, through hunting or habitat extinction, re-homed in native woodland.
Six years ago he began work on developing Wild Ireland in an ancient forest near the border with Northern Ireland and try to turn back the hands of time by bringing in animals that were once native, including wild boar and deer.
Apart from the monkeys, all of the animals in the sanctuary were once native to Ireland and all have been rescued from dangerous or unsuitable situations.
Mr McLaughlin worked with a number of international charities to rescue the animals and bring them to Donegal.
The three bears, two sisters and their brother, came from a private zoo in Lithuania where they were living in a concrete cell with iron bars. Mr McLaughlin said the brown bears are the only ones currently in Ireland.
Wild Ireland opens to the public tomorrow and Mr McLaughlin said he hopes people visiting the park will realise the diversity of wildlife that there once was in Ireland and that the wilderness is our treasure, "a treasure that we need to preserve."
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