Endangered species such as Sumatran tigers and Indian rhinos could soon be bred in Cork, with the opening of a new extension at Fota Wildlife Park.
The €4.3m Asian Sanctuary was opened by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney yesterday, where he was introduced to the park's newest resident, Indian rhino Jamil.
Fota already boasts the most successful cheetah and Rothschild's giraffe breeding programmes in the world.
The Asian Sanctuary, first proposed a decade ago, will see the park expand its breeding programme for endangered species to include Sumatran tigers and Indian rhinos.
Mr Coveney said Fota has been an incredible success story since it first opened its doors in 1983.
"It is a wonderful asset for Cork and for Ireland and generations of Irish children will continue to grow up with a special place in their hearts for Fota," he said.
Jamil, who tips the scales at an impressive one-and-a-half tonnes, is already proving a popular attraction with visitors. His name means 'handsome' in the north Indian dialect.
The new Asian Sanctuary at Fota has already welcomed several endangered Sumatran tigers.
The tigers and rhinos will now be central to arguably the park's most ambitious breeding programme in its 32-year history.