Bears, wolves and monkeys on the border as Wild Ireland Animal Sanctuary to open

The wolves pictured in the sanctuary. Picture: Inish Media.
The wolves pictured in the sanctuary. Picture: Inish Media.

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise

Well, if you visit the woods at Donegal’s newest animal sanctuary at Burnfoot, you will!

Wild Ireland Animal Sanctuary opens its doors this weekend, and site has become a new home to some of amazing creatures, that over the centuries became extinct in Ireland.

Among the new inhabitants are three huge Brown Bears, three European Wolves, a lynx, Barbary Macaque monkeys, and much more.

But this is not a zoo as such, as founder of Wild Ireland, Killian McLaughlin, explains.

“We consider our location to be more of a sanctuary for the animals we have here at Wild Ireland, who for the most part, have been rescued from poor and cramped conditions from across Europe. Our three brown bears, a male and two females, are siblings rescued from Lithuania. They were kept in a concrete cell, as exhibits in a museum, and through the Bears in Mind charity, and Belgian charity Natuurhulpcentrum, we were delighted to be able to offer them a new home in Ireland, were they became extinct thousands of years ago.”

These rescued bears have a new home at the sanctuary.

These rescued bears have a new home at the sanctuary.

“Once they arrived, nature took over, and having never swam or run free, they are now extremely content doing what comes naturally to them. It’s a similar story with our monkeys, who were rescued from a circus, having endured extremely poor care while in captivity.”

Wolves also became extinct in Ireland in 1786, when a bounty was placed on their heads by the British. None of these creatures could survive in the wild if they were released, but we’re happy to give them a new life as close to nature as we can make it, and we’re so excited that after many centuries, these animals have returned to Ireland”

The sprawling park is home to many creatures, from the bears and wolves, to ducks and swans, with the monkeys enjoying their very own ‘Monkey Island’ and it is sure to become a massive draw with tourists and locals alike. The response online has been extraordinary, with the launch of the park clocking up thousands of likes overnight, and a flood of messages from people of all ages looking forward to visiting.

“We have been blown away with the response from people to what we are doing here, and we look forward to welcoming guests to the park. We hope to educate kids of all ages about the history of these animals in Ireland, and celebrate their return to our shores,” concludes Killian.

Killian McLaughlin, pictured with one of the bears.

Killian McLaughlin, pictured with one of the bears.

All of the funds raised at Wild Ireland are also re-invested into the park to take care of the animals, and further develop their enclosures, which are extremely secure. Wild Ireland opens this weekend, on Friday, October 25, and will be open daily from 10am to 4pm, with last admission every day at

3pm, costing only €10 per adult and €8 per child. Wild Ireland is located close to White Oaks Retreat

Centre, between Muff and Burnfoot. You can follow Wild Ireland on Facebook @wildirelandorg and visit the website at www.wildireland .org.

The animal sanctuary at Dundrain.

The animal sanctuary at Dundrain.