Headlines 

Aardvark killed and four meerkats presumed dead after fire at London zoo

Zoo to reopen on Christmas Eve despite blaze at Regents Park site, which left some staff requiring treatment for smoke inhalation

An aardvark has died and four meerkat brothers are presumed dead after a large fire broke out at ZSL London zoo in the early hours of Saturday morning.

A number of ZSL London staff have been treated for smoke inhalation after the blaze in the Animal Adventure section, which spread to an adjacent shop.

Sadly our vets have confirmed the death of our nine-year-old aardvark, Misha, a statement on the zoos website said. There are also four meerkats unaccounted for at this stage.

A zoo spokeswoman said staff were devastated by the aardvarks death.

Misha the aardvark was born on 20 June 2007 at the Royal Burgers zoo in the Netherlands and arrived at ZSL London zoo in 2008. She was a favourite of both zookeepers and visitors thanks to her impressive digging abilities, as well as her friendly, gentle nature.

An
An undated handout picture shows Misha the Aadvark feeding in her enclosure at London Zoo. Photograph: HO/AFP/Getty Images

The four meerkats currently unaccounted for but presumed dead Robbie, Norman, Billy and Nigel were born at ZSL London zoo in 2011. The brothers were universally well loved for their friendly and curious nature.

All other animals in the vicinity are being monitored closely by our vets, said the spokeswoman. Early signs suggest they have not been affected. We will continue to monitor them over the coming days.

Firefighters
Firefighters tackle the blaze on Saturday morning. Photograph: London fire brigade/PA

We are all naturally devastated by this, but are immensely grateful to the fire brigade, who reacted quickly to the situation to bring the fire under control.

She said it was too soon to speculate on the cause of the fire, but added that the zoo would be working very closely with fire investigators over the coming days and weeks to ascertain the cause.

After consulting with fire experts, the zoo said it will be able to reopen safely on Sunday 24 December, from 10am.

Dominic Jermey, ZSLs director general, said of the staff members affected: Given the circumstances they are fine but they, like all of us, are absolutely devastated by this incident today.

All other animals in the vicinity of the blaze are being monitored by vets, and early signs suggest they have not been affected.

ZSL London is the worlds oldest scientific zoo. Its origins date back to 1826, and according to its inventory for 2017 it houses 20,166 animals.

Ten fire engines and more than 70 firefighters attended the scene after the London fire brigade was called at 6.08am to the zoos Adventure cafe and shop.

Firefighters
Firefighters at the scene. Photograph: Mary Turner/Reuters

It took about three hours for the fire at the busy tourist attraction in the north-west of the capital to be brought under control.

Photographs posted on social media showed flames rising from the building before they were doused, which caused billowing smoke.

The cafe and shop include an animal petting area which is home to goats, sheep, donkeys, llamas, pigs and aardvarks.

London fire brigade station manager Clive Robinson, who attended the incident, said: The fire mainly affected the cafe and shop. Part of nearby animal petting area was also affected although at this stage we dont know if any animals were involved.

Firefighters worked hard to bring the fire under control as quickly as possible and to stop it from spreading to neighbouring animal enclosures. Crews will remain at the scene throughout the morning damping down any remaining pockets of fire.

David George, another London fire brigade manager, said: What we are looking at at the moment is, over the next few hours, our specialist fire investigation teams will be searching through the debris and looking and seeing if they can establish a likely cause for the fire.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/dec/23/more-than-70-firefighters-tackle-blaze-at-london-zoo

Related posts