Brown bears are set to make a return to Ireland – thousands of years after going extinct in this part of the world.
That is thanks to an animal over who is setting up an animal sanctuary in Co Donegal.
Killian McLaughlin opened the sanctuary – called Wild Ireland- in Inishowen in 2019. It is 23 acres and will be home to an array of wildlife including bears, barbary macaques and wolves.
McLaughlin raised three of the wolves from when they were pups. He travelled to Lithuania to rescue the bears, where they were living in inhumane conditions.
He told the Irish Sun: “All these animals were native to Ireland, but they were hunted to extinction or went extinct due to habitat loss.
“Ireland is in the temperate rainforest belt. The trees are gone, but the rain is still here. So it is one of the rarest habitats in the world and the climate is perfect for the animals.
“Our brown bears were kept in horrendous conditions in Lithuania.
“The charity Bears in Mind confiscated them from a private mini-zoo where they were being kept behind bars in a small dirty concrete cage.
“We’ve created a fantastic home for them with a forest and pool and they have adapted beautifully.
“Naoise the Lynx had never felt grass under her paws before. When she came out of her box she was totally overwhelmed.
“The lynx was the original Celtic tiger. They are magnificent cats but they were all hunted out of Ireland’s forests.”
It has taken six years of hard work to transform the site into a perfect environment for the animals.
McLaughlin has worked alongside three international charities to find animals that have been living in dangerous and inhumane conditions and to bring them to Ireland.
The hard work paid off and provided McLaughlin with a hugely emotional experience as he watched the bears venture into their new home.
He said: “It took the bears 45 minutes to come out, they had never felt natural substrate before. Now they are free to run, swim and play in our specially designed enclosure.”
Take a look at the video below.
For more information visit Wild Ireland.
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