Less than two weeks after the fire at the London Zoo which claimed the lives of Misha the aardvark and four meerkat brothers, fire at the Woburn Safari Park has now claimed the lives of thirteen Patas monkeys.
The Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service were called to the park at 2:37am on Tuesday 2nd January after security patrolling the site reported a fire in the monkey enclosure. They arrived to find the Patas monkey outhouse well alight with the roof having caved in. Despite their best efforts there was nothing that could be done to save the 13 monkeys that sadly perished in the flames.
It took the fire services over two hours to bring the fire under control, with the incident being declared as ‘closed’ at 4:46am.
The Patas monkey is a species native to Africa, with these particular Patas normally living outside in the African Jungle section of the park. However, during the winter months they are moved into the outhouse during the night to help shelter them from the colder weather. Whilst animals in the surrounding area are believed to be unharmed by the fire they are being closely monitored. As with the London Zoo incident, the cause of the fire is unknown although initial reports strongly suggest a faulty generator could be to blame.
It has since been reported that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) are one of several groups who are using this incident to highlight the dangers of zoos, and have renewed a call for the caging of animals to be banned in the UK. This would not be the first time that Woburn Safari Park has been the centre of attention in regards to its practices surrounding the caging of animals; in 2010 an investigation by the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs deemed that several pens animals were being kept in were ‘inadequate’ and ‘structurally unsound and unsafe’. Lions in groups of three were forced to spend up to 18 hours a day crammed into pens just ten-feet-square.
Patas monkeys are the fastest primates in the world thanks to their powerful back legs, reaching up to speeds of 35mph. They can live up to 20 years and unlike many primates have adapted to live on the ground rather than trees.
The park announced that it would remain open, save for the jungle area which has been closed pending a decision as to when it will reopen.
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