An unfortunate aardvark has been confirmed as the first fatality of a fire that broke out at London Zoo early on Saturday morning. Four meerkats are still unaccounted for following the blaze.
The fire broke out at around 6am in the animal adventure section of the zoo, before spreading to an adjacent shop, according to a statement from the site. Ten fire engines and more than 70 crew responded to the incident in Regent’s Park, bringing it under control shortly after 9am.
“When they arrived our crews were faced with a very well developed fire. They worked incredibly hard in arduous conditions to bring it under control as quickly as possible and to stop it from spreading to neighbouring animal enclosures,” Station Manager David George said in a statement.
London Zoo confirmed that nine-year-old aardvark Misha died in the incident and four meerkats were still missing. Other animals in the vicinity of the fire are being monitored by vets.
A number of staff who were on site when the fire broke out were treated for smoke inhalation.
During the incident, one firefighter suffered a minor wrist injury and was taken to the hospital as a precaution. Five others were also assessed on the scene by London Ambulance Service but remained on duty.
Latest update, ZSL London Zoo is closed today, due to a fire which was brought under control early this morning. All firefighters and staff are safe, sadly our aardvark Misha has died and four meerkats are currently unaccounted for. Find out more here: https://t.co/VU8N48bJSv
— ZSL London Zoo (@zsllondonzoo) 23 December 2017
“We are all naturally devastated by this, but are immensely grateful to the fire brigade, who reacted quickly to the situation to bring the fire under control,” the zoo said.
“It’s too soon to speculate on the cause of the fire but we will be working very closely with fire investigators over the coming days and weeks to ascertain the cause.”