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Chester Zoo 'totally overwhelmed' as donations exceed £120,000 after devastating fire

Chester Zoo said the money raised will help conservation work following Saturday’s devastating blaze. Credit: PA

Chester Zoo has been "totally overwhelmed" as more than £120,000 was raised in donations after a devastating fire.

Members of the public began pledging help within hours of Saturday’s fire, smashing the original target of £50,000.

Bosses at the attraction say insurance will pay for fire damage and the cash, now standing at £121,000 donated by more than 6,800 people, will be spent on conservation work.

Firefighters at Chester Zoo after a fire broke out in the Monsoon Forest habitat area. Credit: Peter Byrne/PA).

Visitors were evacuated and keepers were able to move all the zoo’s mammal species to safety - including its group of critically endangered Sumatran orangutans, Sulawesi macaques, endangered silvery gibbons and birds such as rhinoceros hornbills.

But some frogs, fish, insects and small birds, also housed in the Monsoon Forest habitat building, could not be saved, leaving staff "heartbroken".

The zoo described it as "one of the toughest days in our long history".

But within hours, hundreds of supporters had taken to social media asking how they could help and the Zoo set up an appeal fund.

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A statement on the Zoo’s JustGiving appeal page said: "We’re totally overwhelmed by the love and concern from everyone wanting to help in any way they can.

"With such a huge number of you asking what you can do to support, we’ve set up this page so anyone who wants to donate has the opportunity to do so.

"All the incredible supporters who’ve given are providing us with a fund which will help us continue with our mission to prevent extinction.

"Thank you so much for your kindness. Our teams have been working around the clock and knowing how much support there is behind them has made this awful time a little easier to bear.

"Thank you again. You’re all amazing."

Some creatures did not survive the fire. Credit: @DLClough/PA

More than 15 fire crews and ambulance staff attended after the blaze broke out just before 11.30am on Saturday.

Eyewitnesses said high winds fanned the flames in the roof of the building and one person was treated for smoke inhalation, according to North West Ambulance Service.

The zoo, which had 1.8 million visitors last year, is working with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service to complete an investigation into what started the fire, which is thought to have been accidental.

A rare baby silvery gibbon being cradled by mother, one of the animals born at fire-hit Chester Zoo. Credit: PA

Some events were cancelled on Saturday but the zoo reopened on Sunday.

It is home to around 21,000 animals, with all the creatures led to safety being rehoused on the 125-acre site.

Donations to the Zoo can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/monsoonforest