A GROUP of West Cork fishermen are coming to the financial help of Fota Wildlife Park and Dublin Zoo by donating free fish to feed their animals.
Both Fota and Dublin Zoo have suffered serious financial losses since the pandemic.
Sean McKeown, director of Fota Wildlife Park, has previously said they have enough money to keep the park open until next March 2021, but expressed concerns after that with income down 20% since Covid hit.
Dublin Zoo also warned of closure, and with animal care costing €500,000 per month emergency cash reserves are dwindling.
However, when Castletownbere fishermen Neil Minihane, Tom Kennedy, Anthony Sheehy and their families heard the zoos’ plights, they immediately stepped in.
They contacted Patrick Murphy of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation who has liaised with both facilities, and organised delivery of sprat, herring and anchovies to feed the animals.
‘This all came from the fishermen themselves, who are donating prime fish, suitable for human consumption at no cost,’ said Patrick.
Dublin is looking for sprat, while Fota needs sprat, by-catch herring and anchovies for their penguins, pelicans and seals. Their tigers will also now enjoy the occasional fish as a treat, thanks to the generousity of the Cork fishermen.
Local processing plants, Dermot Sheehy, Baltimore and Ricky O’Kane, Dingle are storing the fish, which will be sent on, as required, in 10 and 20kg packages.
Sean McKeown described the gesture by the local men as incredibly generous.
‘It reduces our food bills, which means we can redirect funds elsewhere,’ he said.
Capital funds they’ve had to put on hold since the pandemic hit include a new monkey habitat, as well as strengthening works on their sea wall which was damaged in Storm Ellen.
‘It needs to be raised half a metre. If anything happens it, we’re in big trouble,’ he said. The public can sponsor an animal by checking out fotawildlife.ie