IRISH fishermen have started giving away some of their catches to feed hungry animals in hard-pressed Fota Wildlife Park.
Pre-Covid, the Cork attraction received an average of 460,000 visitors a year and visitor income amounted to €5million annually — but, just like Dublin Zoo, that has been devastated by the pandemic.
Last month, Fota and Dublin Zoo were granted €1.1million in emergency Government funding due to their current financial difficulties.
Fishermen with the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation said they were spurred into action after hearing the animals could go hungry because of a strain on resources at Fota and Dublin Zoo.
A spokesperson for the group told the Irish Sun on Sunday: “We were so concerned when we heard about the situation in both facilities where the animals are so well cared for by dedicated staff we felt we had to do something about it.”
Members including Neil Minihane of Castletownbere, Co Cork, contacted Fota and Dublin Zoo to see if the sprat, herring and anchovies they are catching would be a food source for the aquatic animals.
The spokesperson said: “The fishermen wanted to know if by donating several tonnes on a regular basis and arranging delivery from their processor in Dingle at no cost would help reduce some of the operating costs and make a small contribution to the financial deficit they are currently facing.
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“They were told that the fish were species that some of the Aquatic animals would regularly eat as part of their diet.”
Yesterday the first of many deliveries landed in Fota, where three generations of the Minihane family were on hand to feed some delighted penguins with fish.
A spokesperson for Fota said they were delighted to receive the fish and praised the fishermen for their generosity and thoughtfulness in providing a fresh, natural food source for its aquatic animals.