London Zoo mourns the death of several animals as it today reopens following the fire which broke out on the morning of December the 23rd.
Over 70 fire fighters from brigades across London were called shortly after 6am after dog walker Adnan Abdul Husein spotted heavy smoke rising from the zoo as he was walking through a nearby park. After Adnan alerted zoo security to the danger, the duty staff who were living on site raced into action moving animals away from the threat of the fire. Unfortunately despite their best efforts a 9 year old aardvark called Misha perished in the fire. An initial postmortem carried out on Misha showed that she died in her sleep of smoke-inhalation. Tributes have since poured in for the aardvark who was born at the Royal Burger’s Zoo in the Netherlands in 2007 before being transferred to London Zoo in 2008 where she became a favourite among both staff and visitors for her kind and friendly nature. Whilst there have been no other reported deaths four meerkats – brothers named Norman, Nigel, Billy and Robert who were all born in 2011 – are still missing, and at this stage are presumed dead.
The fire was finally brought under control roughly three hours later with several staff members being treated for shock and smoke-inhalation and one fire fighter being taken to hospital with a minor wrist injury. Whilst the cause of the fire has not yet been established fire fighters are still searching through the debris to try and find some indication as to how exactly this blaze started, believing it to have started in the Animal Adventure of the zoo and quickly spreading to the café, shop, and half of the petting zoo. A statement released by the zoo says that they are understandably ‘devastated’ by this turn of events and the death of Misha and the disappearance of the meerkats, and staff will continue to monitor the surviving animals to ensure that they have not suffered any prolonged effects from exposure to the fire. They have also expressed their gratitude to the fire brigade for bring the fire under control so quickly.
London zoo is the oldest scientific zoo in the world opening on the 17th of April 1828 and then later opening to the general public in 1847 to help raise funds for the zoo. The history of London zoo is a fascinating one, including several attacks during WW2 where surprisingly no animals were killed although several escaped. The official statement released by the Zoology Study of London (ZSL) regarding the fire can be found here.
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