New regulations have contributed to the closure of a Killarney wildlife park and visitor attraction after 25 years.
The privately owned Coolwood nature reserve opened in 1993, following approaches from the local tourism industry to animal collector, Sean Buckley.
Commercially, Coolwood only barely made sense, but, last year, the attraction was told it had to apply for a zoo licence.The 50-acre complex contains a ten-acre park with exotic animals, while the woodland area is a sanctuary for Killarney red deer and red squirrel.
“We didn’t envisage this as a problem, until we were furnished with all of 24 foolscap pages of rules and regulations, under the new regime by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht,” Mr Buckley told the 'Irih Examiner'
He listed 10 other attractions, all privately owned, that have closed in Kerry and Cork in the past number of years.
Pet farms are exempt from the requirements and Mr Buckley has asked tourism minister, Brendan Griffin, to apply the same exemptions to his business as to neighbouring pet farms.
The only attractions left will be those that are supported by the county council and Udarás na Gaeltactha, he says.
The Department says the purpose of the 2016 Irish Standards for Modern Zoo Practice is to support previous European legislation, to which Ireland signed up. It does not have a role in licensing pet farms not classified as zoos.