One of Ireland's top attractions, Fota Wildlife Park, faces the nightmare scenario of coping with a €15,000-a-month feed bill for its 135 animal species while the 100-acre park remains totally empty of visitors.
The Covid-19 lockdown has crippled the traditionally busy Easter visitor period for the hugely popular east Cork wildlife park and left staff worried as to how long the shutdown will continue.
Despite being closed for a month, Fota still has to cope with the vast feed demands of the park's animals including two-and-a-half tonnes of meat for its lions and tigers each month, one tonne of chicken for its cheetahs and three tonnes of small fish for its penguins and pelicans.
Fota director Sean McKeown admitted it has been a very challenging time.
"This should be our busiest time. Over recent years some of the busiest days we recorded over the entire season was at Easter," he said.
"It has been very challenging for everyone but especially for our staff who are so dedicated and passionate about the work we do here."
A not-for-profit charity, Fota critically depends on its gate receipts which deliver around 95pc of the annual income.
"If we have to stay closed to the end of June, we are probably looking at an income loss of around €1.7m.
"But if we have to stay closed until, say, the end of August, we are looking at lost income of around €3.5m," he said.
That ranks as a devastating blow for a facility which has an annual turnover of around €6m.
Fota has tried to retain as many staff as possible under the Government's Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme.
"We really have done everything possible to retain our staff because the workers we have here are so passionate about their jobs and what we are trying to accomplish here."
The park has an over-winter staffing level of 55 personnel but that soars to 150 during the summer when cafés, shops and exhibition centres open.
"It has had a knock-on effect for us, there is no doubt about that."
Because of the Covid-19 shutdown, Fota has suspended work on the long-planned redevelopment of its popular Monkey Island and vital flood protection scheme.
Yet while Fota is eerily empty of visitors, its animals still need to be fed - with the monthly food bill at Fota around €15,000.
"For instance, over the space of one month our lions and tigers need about two-and-a-half tonnes of meat, most of it meat on the bone, which is better for them," he said.
"Another one tonne of meat, a lot of it chicken, is needed for our cheetahs."
While there are also significant fodder costs for animals like bison and giraffes, spring grass growth at least helps ease the amounts required.
"Feed is one of the greatest single costs we face and it is a very complex organisational challenge. For instance, just today we took delivery of three tonnes of fish in herring and sprats."
While mostly destined for the park's penguins and pelicans, even Fota's lions like their diet varied with a little fish.
"We also need large quantities of fruit and vegetables for other animals like the lemurs and monkeys."
However, firms like Pallas Foods help support Fota with the supply of certain types of produce.
"Life goes on here despite the pandemic. There may not be any visitors in the park but the animals have to be fed and the breeding programmes continue.
"The staff have been working to prepare the park for the summer season after the winter. Over the past few weeks we have had penguin chicks born, a cheetah cub arrived and further births will take place."
While the Covid-19 shutdown is the most serious challenge the park has faced in its 37-year history, there have been difficult times before, ranging from the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 to the various severe weather events between 2009 and 2018.
The 100-acre park is home to 135 different species ranging from tiny deer, pandas, monkeys and lemurs to lions, tigers, cheetah and Asian rhino.
The majority of Fota's animals represent some of the most endangered species on the planet and the park's breeding programmes are world renowned.
Opened in 1983 on part of the old Smith-Barry estate, the park boasts almost 470,000 visitors annually. Some 50pc of visitors are tourists and Fota delivers a €200m annual boost to the local economy.
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