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About Us - Zoo Research at UCC

University College Cork has a longstanding connection with Fota Wildlife Park. UCC acquired Fota Island in 1975. Then, through the planning and vision of the late Dr Terry Murphy of Dublin Zoo and Professor Tom Rafferty of UCC, the idea of Fota Wildlife Park, as an open and natural environment with no obvious barriers, was realised. Under the guidance of UCC lecturer Mr Sean O'Donovan, Fota Wildlife Park opened to the public in 1983.

Recently, Professor John O'Halloran, President of UCC, and Professor Ruth Ramsay of The School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at UCC, have further strengthened UCC's ties to Fota Wildlife Park. Professor O'Halloran is the Chair of the Fota Board, and Professor Sarah Culloty, Head of the College of Science, Engineering and Food Science and Director of the Environmental Research Institute, chairs the Research Ethics Board, of which Professor Ruth Ramsay is also a member. Mr Sean McKeown and Professor Ramsay jointly chair Fota’s Animal and Research Committee.

Much of our zoo research takes place at Fota Wildlife Park, where more than 50 undergraduate research projects have been conducted, two MScs and four PhDs, but our research is also conducted throughout Ireland and abroad. 

Our research is focused on:

  1. Captive animal behaviour, including comparative research with wild conspecifics PhD thesis 
  2. Environmental enrichment with the aim of enhancing captive animal welfare PhD thesis
  3. Human-animal interactions, including visitor effects and behaviour PhD thesis
  4. Education, including the first collaborative project between UCC's School of BEES and School of Education PhD thesis
  5. Native species research (e.g. natterjack toads, red squirrels, choughs)

Please contact Dr Courtney Collins for general information or Professor Ruth Ramsay if you would like more information on postgraduate study.


Video gallery

Link to Fota Wildlife Park field research

Link to Asiatic lion territorial vocalisations at Fota Wildlife Park

Link to Cheetah studies at Fota




Zoo Research Group

School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences

University College Cork, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork, T23N73K