Fota Wildlife Park welcomes new baby female European bison

The calf joins a 13-strong herd at the park

Fota Wildlife Park welcomes new baby female European bison

The new female bison | Image: Fota Wildlife Park

Fota Wildlife Park in Cork is asking the public to help name its new female European bison calf.

She was born on Saturday June 2nd to first-time mother Red and father Hyssop.

The park is calling on the public to name the calf, who joins a 13-strong herd.

Her father joined the herd two years ago from Port Lympne as part of the European breeding program.

European bison are the largest and heaviest land mammal in Europe and were hunted to extinction in the wild in the early 20th century.

Due to the cooperative captive breeding programmes, they have now been re-introduced to the wild and re-established in Poland, Romania and other European countries.

In April 2008 Fota sent its first European bison to Poland - where their descendants are roaming through the Bialowieza Forest.

In April 2014 the park sent two female bison to join a wild-living herd in Vanatori Neamt Nature Park in Romania.

The new female bison | Image: Fota Wildlife Park

Lead ranger Aidan Rafferty said: “We’re delighted with our new addition to the European bison herd and Red and calf are both doing great - as a first time mother she’s adapting to her new calf very well.

"She’s very protective of her and they both are taking to suckling with ease."

The European bison is currently listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Vulnerable due to its small population size.

Fota has participated in the European-wide breeding programme ever since bison first arrived in Cork in 1999.

A significant number of calves have been born in the years since, and many have been sent overseas to aid in programmes being developed elsewhere.

The European bison, also known as the ‘wisent’, is a distinctive looking animal with a thickset body, short neck and a visible hump at the shoulder.

As the largest land mammal in Europe, a big bull can weigh up to 1,000 kilos and can reach a height of six feet.