One of the most amazing places in Ireland is FOTA Wildlife Park. It’s an incredible expanse of land just a short (and stunning) train ride away from Cork (A.K.A. Ireland’s Windy City), where there are as few fences as possible and more animals than you can imagine. Even animals you would never think of in Ireland – like zebras and giraffes – are doing awesome at FOTA.

I love it there. Photo copyright Andrea Beça!
I love it there. Photo copyright Andrea Beça!

For some of the smaller animals, like the monkeys, kangaroos, and birds, there are literally no fences at all. You can wander through the forested areas and watch them doing their thing.

Hey pretty birds! Photo copyright Andrea Beça.
Hey pretty birds! Photo copyright Andrea Beça.

I’ve been there twice. Once on my own in 2006, and once with my mom when she came to visit me in 2010. I wish I could go there again like, tomorrow. If you’re ever in the southern part of Ireland, I highly recommend making a day of it.

Anyway, the first time I was there, I was on my own and I spent the entire day at the park. I wandered through every single path, took about a bajillion photos, and just soaked it all in. By the end of the day, I was not only exhausted, but starving, so I made my way to the small restaurant near the main entrance of the park. Less than 100 metres from the entrance of the restaurant, about 20 kangaroos were lazying around in the shade by a stream, and there were about half a dozen peacocks having a wander around. Too cool.

Of course the only thing I could eat in the entire restaurant (see: fast food joint) was fries. I didn’t have the luxury of a variety of food options while I was in Ireland (see: I probably lost 15lbs on the trip). But hey, it was food and I was happy to have found something. So I got my fries and made my way to the patio to find a place to sit.

It felt wonderful to take a load off for a few minutes, but seeing a few families with young children around me, I did feel a bit lonely. It had been a quiet day to myself, and I felt some tiny pangs of homesickness creeping in.

But lo and behold, I made a fast friend.

A peacock.

Yup. Pretty sure he actually had his eye on my fries, but he came strolling up to my table, paused right next to me, and stared. I talked to him a little bit – you know, the usual things you say to a bird, like, “Hey, buddy,” and “Who’s a pretty bird?” – and he just looked at me, calm and happy.

So we had lunch together, that peacock and I.

I shared my fries with a peacock.

Strange, funny, and mildly tense because who knows if he’s happy or he’s gonna attack me and steal the rest of the fries, right?

No way. Never. We were totally cool.


That was the day I learned that the peacock is probably one of my spirit animals.


P.S. According to the Internet:

“Peacock/Peahen’s Gifts Include – all aspects of beauty, wholeness, ability to see into the past, present, and future, immortality, dignity, rising out of ashes, self-confidence, watchfulness, immortality.”

I’ll take it!