Chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas are among more than 30 animals to have died after a fire inside an ape house at a German zoo.
Krefeld Zoo, located near the Dutch border, said an “unfathomable tragedy” had befallen the wildlife park, with the flames erupting shortly after midnight as the city welcomed the new year.
In a post on Facebook, the zoo initially said that none of the animals who lived in the monkey sanctuary had survived, but later revealed that two chimpanzees had made it.
Image: Firemen inspect the burned-out monkey sanctuary
Image: Local media reported that fireworks caused the blaze
“The chimpanzees Bally and Limbo miraculously survived the devastating fire,” the zoo said.
“They are only slightly injured and are now housed in two boxes in the Gorilla Garden. They are being looked after by several zoo veterinarians.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the zoo had posted: “An unfathomable tragedy hit us shortly after midnight. Our ape building burned down to the foundation.”
It said every chimpanzee, orangutan and gorilla inside had died, adding: “Our worst fears have become reality.”
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Fruit bats and birds also died.
The nearby Gorilla Garden exhibit escaped unscathed, with popular resident Kidogo and his family alive and well.
Image: Every animal inside the ape house died
The zoo said it was thankful for the offers of assistance, but said it could not accept volunteer aid because the devastated sanctuary “is in danger of collapsing”.
“We are grateful for donations of any amount,” the zoo said.
“We will continue to focus on keeping apes in the future and we will build a new house.”
Local media reported the fire was started by fireworks, but the zoo – which will remain closed on Wednesday – has not commented on the cause.
Police are continuing to investigate but have said it could have been caused by a Chinese lantern.
Krefeld Police spokesman Gerd Hoppmann told reporters that witnesses had spotted lanterns “flying close to the zoo and very low, so we can assume they fell on the ground in this area”.
Image: The zoo will remain closed on Wednesday
According to Deutsche Welle, the monkey sanctuary had stood since 1975 and was home to orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and other animals.
One woman who visited the zoo on New Year’s Day said: “We went into every house and looked at all the animals that are outside and of course we were also in the monkey house.
“The new gorilla enclosure has become beautiful and in 2020 an outdoor enclosure for the orangutans was planned and for the chimpanzee forest is also being built. All this is no longer necessary.”
Another local said he was “speechless” that fireworks were still allowed in the vicinity of the zoo and called on city authorities to band them within a mile radius.
The man added: “The animals suffer extremely from these fireworks, they panic and especially the zoo should have been protected.”
Source : Sky News