There are so many wild species at Fota Wildlife park, county Cork – but few as sweet and attractive as the little Meerkat’s. Like many of animals they occupy their own island and you view them from across the water of a lake.
I spent a good time during my visit with these little creatures and found it difficult to move on, they are such great fun to watch 🙂 🙂
Here is their introduction and details, provided by Fota wildlife park themselves !
About the Meerkat
A favourite of visitors young and old, the Meerkat is a smaller member of the Mongoose family. Measuring up to 35cm in length and weighing up to 730grams, it has four long, strong claws on each paw to aid with burrowing and likes to stand on its hind legs from high vantage points when possible.
The Meerkat is found across southern Africa in the wild, particularly around the savannahs and open plains of Botswana, Namibia, Angola and South Africa.
The Meerkat is a social and curious animal that lives underground in groups called mobs, gangs or clans. Much of its time is spent digging and foraging for food including insects, roots, eggs, small reptiles and scorpions – the Meerkat is immune to the latter’s poison unlike mankind.
While pack members are feeding, at least one of the mob will be on guard, standing on its back legs and watching for predators such as eagles, foxes for jackals. Should any danger arise, an alarm call will alert the entire group who will then quickly venture underground.
Meerkats share the job of looking after their young. When born, the pups are mostly hairless and cannot see or hear. They generally open their eyes after two weeks and start to eat food other than milk a week later. Females tend to be larger than males and can have as many as four litters of up to five pups a year – generally around rainy season when food is plentiful.
Considered to be of Least Concern, local populations of the species are susceptible to disturbances and habitat loss caused by mankind.
Did you know?
The fur on the Meerkat’s belly is thin and helps it to regulate its own body temperature. It sits up or lies on warm ground in order to increase its temperature and reduces it by lying belly-down in a cool, dark burrow.
The Fota Connection
The Park’s Meerkat clan arrived in 2010 and took up residence in a new exhibit near the main entrance. Its habitat has since been revamped further with the addition of a new viewing house, allowing visitors more intimate interaction with one of the world’s most interesting and active species. The original group, Tippy and her three daughters, came from Belfast Zoo but Fota’s numbers have since increased into double figures.
There are so many different Species of Wildlife at Corks Fota Wildlife park that you would need many visits in order to get to know as much as you can about them all, along with getting enough time to observer their individual personalities.
During last weekends visit I found so much that I liked about them all but for me the Red Ruffed Lemurs were very special fun to spend some time with. They never stopped moving around their island and their climbing and balancing skills were just amazing to take in.
Here are some basic details about these wonderful Lemur’s
About the Red Ruffed Lemur
Named for the long thick fur that grows around its head and body, the Red Ruffed Lemur is an agile primate that has made the island of Madagascar its home. Males and females look the same – its body is close to its feet, the animal has piercing (sometimes reddish) eyes and it usually weighs between seven and 12 pounds.
Ruffed Lemurs are found exclusively on the island of Madagascar off the continent of African, and are generally found in the upper canopy of the tropical rainforests on the eastern side of the island.
The species is considered to be crepuscular, which simply means that they are most active at dawn and dusk. Their diet consists mainly of fruits, seeds, nectar and plant matter and the animal scent marks its territories and uses an elaborate system of alarm calls to alert other group members if predators are nearby.
Female Red Ruffed Lemurs don’t carry their offspring like most other primates; instead, mothers give birth and leave their young in nests that are generally found between ten and 20 metres above ground level. However, infant mortality is high with about 65% of newborns not reaching three months.
The species is listed as being Critically Endangered after a significant decline in population in recent decades because of agriculture, logging and mining activities across its habitat. In fact, over 90% of Madagascar’s original rainforest is gone.
It is estimated that there could be as few as 1,000 to 10,000 left in the wild, while the Black & White Lemur is the most Endangered of the two Ruffed Lemurs.
Did you know?
The Ruffed Lemur feeds on nectar by sticking its long nose deep into the flower. The Lemur’s snout becomes coated with pollen in the process, which is then transported to other flowers – making the animal an important pollinator within its local habitat.
The Fota Connection
The Park is home to three of the 16 species of Lemur and two varieties of the Ruffed Lemur – the Red and Black and White species.
The Ruffed Lemurs are maintained on separate islands alongside each other in the lakes area as they are territorial animals, while Fota has been actively involved in a series of projects aimed at preserving what remains of their natural habitat in Madagascar.
During last weekend we visited Fota wildlife park in county cork and spent many great hours getting to know many of the animals they have in their care.
The Siamang Gibbon at the park are all member of the same family 🙂
Here are some details and fact about them , just to help you get to know them a little better 🙂
About the Siamang Gibbon
With a Latin name that means ‘Dweller in the trees’, the Siamang Gibbon is a tailless, black-furred ape that can grow to be twice the size of other Gibbons. Like other apes, the Siamang Gibbon has quite an upright posture and well-developed brain. However, it can weigh up to 14kg and has a special throat sac to amplify its call, which can be heard up to two miles away in the forest canopy.
Native to the forests of Sumatra, Malaysia and Thailand, its home range overlaps with both the Lar and Agile Gibbons 0 though because of its largely leaf-eating habits, it does not compete for what the forest has to offer the other species.
Siamangs are very agile and acrobatic creatures and their extra-long arms help them swing up to 15 feet in one move. Its arms stretch out to help with balance while walking and because it uses its hands so frequently while traveling, the Gibbon tends to carry items with its feet.
Siamang Gibbons are considered to be Endangered as 70-80% of their primary habitat has been lost to palm oil production in recent decades. The illegal pet trade has also taken a toll on wild populations, but there are a growing number in existence in captivity across the world.
Did you know?
The Siamang Gibbon mates for life with both parents playing a role in rearing offspring. Breeding males and females also sing duets in order to maintain their bond and establish territory boundaries.
As a fellow ape, the Siamang is also the closest related animal to Mankind in the Park.
The Fota Connection
One of the noisiest crews in the Park, the Siamang Gibbons are hard to ignore and have been at Fota right from the beginning.
They feed on fruit, vegetables, nuts and willow branches and can often engage in long bouts of calling out if the Park is busy and they feel their territory might be under threat. Situated on Monkey Island, their location allows visitors get right up close.
During the last weekend we visited Fota wildlife park in county cork and spent many great hours getting to know many of the animals they have in their care.
The weather was perfect during the time needed to walk around all the islands and planned routes around the park, with many of the animal on open display and very easy to view you get a very personal experience.
The image above is of a female Bennett’s Walley, with two of her babies resting Snuggly in her pouch, I felt very lucky to get a great view of the three of them as they all napped in the midday sun 🙂
About the Bennett’s Wallaby
Sometimes called the Red-necked Wallaby, the species has a mainly grey coat with reddish shoulders and a black nose and paws. The male’s body can measure up to 90cm in length and weigh up to 18kg; the female, in contrast, is smaller – though both have five clawed-tipped fingers that are used for feeding and grooming.
A native of the east coast of Australia and Tasmania, the Bennett’s Wallaby is noctural – resting during the day and coming out to feed at night. Largely a solitary animal, it follows a herbivorous diet and gains most of the water it needs through the food sources it consumes. Breeding can occur at any time of the year with females giving birth to one offspring – known as a Joey – once every 12 months.
The Wallaby’s ears are very sensitive and are its first line of defence in that it will bound away from a predator as soon as it hears one nearby. Each of its hind legs has an elastic tendon that allows the species catapult itself forward as its tail acts like a rudder, enabling the Wallaby to change direction quickly.
Once hunted for their meat and fur and persecuted by ranchers and farmers, Wallabies are now a protected species. The move has seen their numbers in the wild increase in recent years and as the species is tolerant of alternative habitats, it is of Least Concern on the Endangered List.
Did you know?
Similar in size to a grape when born, Joeys grow to 2,000 times its birth weight during the first six months of its life. They begin to leave their mother’s pouch from about seven months and are fully independent at a year old.
The Fota park Connection
The Park’s Wallabies are free ranging and now number between 50 and 70 animals around the island. More easily spotted in the early morning or late evening when the Park is quieter, this species feeds on the grass of the African Savanah or Woodlands areas and tends to be timid and hard to get too close to
I will post lots more images of all these great creatures at Fota park and do my best to introduce them to you 🙂