Animal Specialists British and Irish

Animals That Have Gone Extinct in Ireland

IrelandGreat Auks1Great Auks: Not quite a penguin, but not quite a bird, the Great Auk used to be common along Irish coastlines before it went extinct 1824. The Great Auks were the only modern species in the genus Penguins. Due to their small wings and slow speed, they were easy prey for humans. Great Auks were mainly hunted for pillows. By the 1500s, the species became endangered. Although the Great Auk is extinct, the last of it’s kind (which was killed in 1834) can be viewed at the Trinity College’s Zoological Museum.


Irish Elk1Irish Elk: Famously known for being the largest deer to ever exist, the Irish Elk went extinct about 2.6 million years ago. However, the last Irish Elk in Ireland died around 11,00 years ago. These deers mainly evolved during the glacial periods, and were alive during the Pleistocene Epoch. Due to their antlers being so large that they could not hold their heads up, these deers became extinct. There is also another theory that their large antlers caused them to have a mineral deficiency. Although the Irish Elk was mainly native to Ireland, they could also be find in Eastern countries, such as China.

Grey Whales1Grey Whales: Since the 1600s, grey whales have been disappearing off the Irish coast, but it was not until the 17th century that they went extinct. It is believed that the grey whale was hunted to extinction by whalers who wanted them for their blubber. The most recent fossil remains of the grey whale have been radiocarbon dated to 1674.


Grey Wolves: The Grey Wolf arrived in Ireland during the end of the last ice age, and stayed until the late 1700s. Grey Wolves were hunted into extension. Due to the Cromwell’s rule in England at the time, the English upperclass disliked wolves, as they were viewed as irritating pesks. It is suggested that Ireland, as well as Great Britain, Holland, and Denmark are the only European countries with no wolf population.


Pine Martens1Pine Martens: These animals, which are native to Northern Europe, and belong to the mustelid family, went extinct during the 20th extinction in Ireland. It is important to note that Pine Martens are not completely extinct, but the surviving few live in isolated areas in western Ireland. The animal went extinct due to humans hunting them for their fur and for the species constantly inbreeding. There are an estimated 2,700 Pine Martens left in Ireland, making them Ireland’s rarest native mammal species.

Brown Bear1Brown Bear: Although the Brown Bear is still very much alive throughout North American and Norther Eurasia, they are extinct in Ireland. The Brown Bear most likely went extinct shortly after the last glaciation, which would be around 150-1500 years during the last ice age period. From the DNA of brown bear fossils in Ireland, it has been proved that they are the ancestors of the modern Polar Bear. Fossils of the Brown Bear can be found all around Ireland, but a famous example would be the Cave of the Bears in County Leitrim.