BEAUTIFUL AND brutal in equal measure, brown bears are said to have roamed the prehistoric Irish landscape for thousands of years.
Ireland was almost untouched by humans back then, with fewer than 1,000 thought to be living on the island at the time of the Irish brown bear’s existence.
Experts theorise that the species became extinct during the Bronze Age around 1,000BC.
But the brown bear is finally back on Irish shores thanks to a new wildlife sanctuary in Donegal.
Wild Ireland is the culmination of years of work for solicitor and zoologist Killian McLaughlin, who has turned his passion for rescuing animals into a 23-acre sanctuary in Inishowen.
Open to the public this week, Wild Ireland is the culmination of six years’ hard work by McLaughlin with every one of the animals present at the park previously rescued from inappropriate – or in the case of his brown bears - dangerous locations.
“Our brown bears were kept in horrendous conditions in Lithuania,” McLaughlin told the Irish Mirror.
“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.”
Brown bears aren’t the only eye-catching animals residing at the sanctuary either, with wolves, wild boar, and deer all making their home in Donegal while swans, ferrets, geese, ducks and other wildlife also roam the space.
There’s even room for a Celtic Tiger, or more specifically a lynx by the name of Naoise, and five non-native five barbary macaques rescued from the circus and illegal pet trade.
Wild Ireland opens this Friday, October 25.