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Chester Zoo confirms animals died in "heartbreaking" fire

Chester Zoo staff say they are "devastated" some animals died in Saturday's fire.

The blaze broke out in the roof of the Monsoon Forest area, leading to an evacuation of visitors.

Today the zoo confirmed insects, frogs, fish and small birds had died in the fire.

At this stage it's thought the fire started accidentally

An appeal for donations had already raised nearly 75 thousand pounds.

This report from Ralph Blunsom

Chester Zoo confirm animals died in the fire

This is their heartbreaking statement:

A message from us…

Yesterday was one of the toughest days in Chester Zoo’s long history. The remarkable efforts from the zoo team and the emergency services meant the fire was extinguished as quickly as possible.

Visitors were evacuated immediately and we would like to thank them for their understanding and cooperation. Thankfully, no staff or public were harmed in the incident.

Keepers were able to encourage all mammal species away from the fire and to safety - including the zoo’s group of critically endangered Sumatran orangutans, Sulawesi macaques, endangered silvery gibbons and birds such as rhinoceros hornbills.

We are though, devastated to say that we were unable to save some of our insects, frogs, fish and small birds who were located near to the outbreak of the fire. It’s absolutely heart-breaking to lose any animal, especially when conservationists have worked so hard to breed these wonderful species.

New homes have been found within the zoo for all of the animals that were led to safety and our teams are working around the clock to relocate them as soon as possible.

The strength and support from the public has been incredibly overwhelming and the messages of goodwill have been of great comfort to our teams. We will support each other in rebuilding this part of the zoo and continue our mission of preventing extinction.

The cause of the fire is currently unknown, but we will be helping the relevant authorities with the investigation that will take place over the coming days and weeks. We would again, like to thank the emergency services for their swift response.

Jamie Christon – Chief Operating Officer

Please refer to our website and social media pages for accurate information. We will continue update you with more details as soon as we have them. ------------ Many of you have expressed that you would like to come along to the zoo to show your support, so we are able to confirm that the zoo will be open today, Sunday 15 December. Monsoon Forest and our Islands zone will remain closed as our conservationists and vets continue to provide expert care and attention to the species there.

The Lanterns event will go ahead this evening (Sunday 15 December) as planned.

As a result of the overwhelming numbers of people asking how they can donate to support our work as a conservation charity in light of the fire, a Just Giving page has been set up here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/monsoonforest

Thank you to everyone who has donated. Of course, we will be working with our insurers regarding the building damage but the generosity of our supporters will help us to recover our conservation efforts for threatened species as we fight against extinction.

– Chester Zoo

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Chief Fire office thanks officers for bringing fire at Chester Zoo under control.

Chester Zoo Credit: Lucy Meacock

Cheshire Chief Fire office thanks officers for bringing fire at Chester Zoo under control.

All agencies worked hard to resolve this incident but naturally I am proud of the Firefighters that worked incredibly hard. They were faced with an escalating fire in a complex building whilst considering the safety of people and animals. Very complex incident - well managed. As a result all the Orangutans were saved and most of the building

– Mark Cashin, Chief Fire Officer
Chester Zoo Credit: Mark Cashin

Chester Zoo working to account for animals

Chester Zoo staff are still working to account for all animals affected by huge fire at the Monsoon Forest habitat.

Fire Crews were called to the zoo at 11.28am and there are currently 15 fire appliances in attendance at the scene.

Crews – wearing breathing apparatus and using main jets - are currently tackling the blaze in a building on the site, which is 100m by 25m.

The zoo has been evacuated and there are no reports of any injuries at this time.

The zoo’s teams are now assessing the situation. Critically endangered Sumatran orangutans and other mammals are all accounted for. We are working hard to account for all other species.

– Chester Zoo

Drivers are advised to avoid the area whilst emergency services continue to work at the scene.

The zoo’s The Lanterns event this evening has been cancelled and ticket holders notified by email. The zoo remains closed.

Fire at Chester Zoo

David Clough Credit: David Clough

Visitors are being evacuated after reports of a fire at Chester Zoo.

Huge plumes of thick black smoke have been seen billowing from the site, with bright red flames leaping from a dome structure.

A spokeswoman said bosses were dealing with an 'ongoing incident', but would release further detail

Video courtesy of @Faktorystudios1

Video courtesy of @EssexFLO

We remain at the scene and there are no reports of any injuries at this time.The team at the zoo are assessing the situation to account for all the animals.Drivers are advised to avoid the area.

– Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service
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