Set in 27 hectares of green parklands near Ballymote, South Sligo, lies Ireland's largest sanctuary for raptors and owls. The Irish Raptor Research Centre / Eagles Flying is the home of more than 100 eagles, hawks, owls, falcons and vultures. Altogether there are more than 450 birds and animals, encompassing nearly 100 different species, in the center. It was established in 1999 as an institution for research on birds of prey and in 2003 parts of the area were opened to the public. Today it's one of the major tourist attractions in the area, attracting tens of thousands of visitors every year.
Brilliant bird shows
Get close to hunting birds at the Eagles Flying bird shows. Enjoy twice daily shows from scientists who train these magnificent birds for visitors and give information about the biology of them. These highly entertaining and interactive bird shows involve different types of raptors flying right over visitors' head or landing next to them. Some of the birds have a wingspan of up to 3 meters and it is possible to touch some of them or have them land on your hand. Different groups of these birds have special ways to fly and hunt. Eagles, Hawks, Falcons, Vultures and Owls will demonstrate their unique skills. The friendly staff will happily answer any questions you might have about the creatures and will ensure your safety at all times. If it's raining, the shows can be moved indoors. There are shows at 11am and 3pm every day, which last for approximately one hour. Before and after the show, visitors can walk the park lands and enjoy the birds displayed in aviaries or on perches close to the walking path.
Popular petting zoo
For those who prefer fur to feathers, there's also a large supervised Petting Zoo at the center. Here, visitors can get hands-on with guinea-pigs, pigs, rabbits, lambs, goats, donkeys, ferrets, and many more. Grizzly the raccoon, is a gifted pickpocket, Tui and Allan, the tame foxes are lovely live cuddly animals. Meanwhile, Monty, the 4 meter Python is long enough to wrap himself around at least 6 people at a time. And, at 350kg, Rosie the pig is big enough to give kids a real "piggy-back ride!" Whether interested in majestic birds like falcons, eagles and owls, or more fascinated by cuddly creatures, there is wildlife for everyone at Eagles Flying, among the beautiful green hills that are so typical of Irish nature.