So, if you’ve ever wanted to see brown bears in Ireland, along with a whole host of other very unique animals, now’s your chance.
Wild Ireland, a newly opened animal sanctuary on the Inishowen Peninsula, has given refuge to a number of animals that have been extinct in Ireland for centuries.
Visitors to the sanctuary can expect to find everything from bears and wolves to otters, wild boar and more.
In the guide below, you’ll find out everything you need to know if you fancy visiting, including tour info and how the animals ended up in this picturesque corner of Donegal.
Related read: Have a nosey at our guide on what to do in Donegal in 2020. It’s packed with unique attractions and tourist favourites.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Wild Ireland in Donegal
Although a visit to Wild Ireland in Donegal is pretty straightforward, there’s a handful of need-to-knows that’ll make your visit all the more enjoyable.
You’ll find ‘Wild Ireland’ in Burnfoot in Donegal, a handy 15-minute drive from Derry City and less than an hour from the mighty Malin Head.
2. Opening hours
The opening hours are a bit all over the place at the minute, given the government guidelines, so check in advance of booking here.
Addmission to Wild Ireland is pretty reasonable: it’s €10 per adult and €8 per child (note: under 2’s go free, so there’s no need to book them a ticket.
4. How long a visit takes
Each session at Wild Ireland lasts 3 hours. There are keeper talks that take place every 15 minutes (you can also wander around on your own if you don’t want to attend the talks).
About Wild Ireland
The sanctuary is one of Donegal’s newest tourist attractions, having only opened its doors to the public last year.
The newly opened and very unique attraction is now called home by a number of animals that have been extinct in Ireland for centuries.
It’s here that you’ll find an ancient woodland that’s inhabited by some very exotic wildlife, like brown bears, wolves, red deer, monkeys, wild boar and lynx.
Wolves and brown bears in Donegal: A brief history
If you’re worried about how the different animals at Wild Ireland in Donegal came to arrive there, don’t be.
Many of the animals that call Wild Ireland ‘home’ were rescued from poor and cramped conditions across the world.
The three brown bears (a male and two females) were rescued from Lithuania where they were kept in a concrete cell.
The sanctuary worked with charities Bears in Mind and Natuurhulpcentrum to offer them a new home in Ireland.
Wild Ireland’s resident monkeys were rescued from a circus while the wolves and other animals on-site all have a similar and too familiar story.
Oliver Cromwell the last wolf in Ireland
When I was browsing the Wild Ireland website I came across the story behind the last wolf in Ireland for the first time.
Now, if you’re not familiar with Oliver Cromwell, he was an Englishman that left a wave of destruction across Ireland. If you’re unaware of his crimes in Ireland, I urge you to read more about him.
Interestingly enough, the Irish wolf was one of the many deaths that Cromwell was responsible for in Ireland.
Cromwell made an order on the 27th of April 1652 to prevent the export of the Irish Wolfhound from Ireland, as they were becoming scarce while wolves were becoming too common.
As a result, a bounty was placed on the head of the Wolf. The last wolf in Ireland is said to have been killed in 1786, near Mount Leinster in Carlow.
Things to see and do near Wild Ireland in Donegal
One of the beatites of visiting Wild Ireland is that there’s tonnes of things to do and places to visit nearby.