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Aardvark dies after blaze at London Zoo

Fire in cafe next to animal petting area

23 December, 2017 — By William McLennan

Smoke pours from the Adventure Cafe at London Zoo. Photo: London Fire Brigade

MORE than 70 firefighters were called to a blaze at a cafe in London Zoo this morning and spent three hours working to stop flames spreading to neighbouring animal enclosures.

An aardvark – nine-year-old Mischa – has been confirmed dead, while four meerkats are missing.

Around three quarters of the cafe, near to an animal petting area, was said to be alight, with flames consuming half of the roof of the building. Emergency services were called at around 6am. The London Fire Brigade said shortly after 9am that the blaze had been brought under control.

London Zoo said the attraction in Regent’s Park will be closed today “until further notice”.

It said in a statement: “We have keepers living on site and they, along with our security team, responded incredibly quickly to move animals to safe locations within their enclosures. Those staff who were first on the scene have been treated here for shock and smoke inhalation. Sadly our vets have confirmed the death of our nine-year-old aardvark, Misha.  There are also four meerkats unaccounted for at this stage, and we have limited access to site to confirm this.”

The zoo added: “All other animals in the vicinity are being monitored closely by our vets, but early signs suggest they have not been affected. We will continue to monitor them over the coming days. 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. We will aim to re-open when we know it is safe to do so for animals, staff and visitors.”

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Fire station manager Clive Robinson said: “The fire mainly affected the café and shop. Part of the nearby animal petting area was also affected.

“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.”

Fire crews from Kentish Town, Paddington, Euston and West Hampstead  were among the first on the scene, with engines joining from “other surrounding fire stations”, the Brigade said.

A total of 10 fire engines were at the scene in Regent’s Park.


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