January 23, 2018

Blaze Shuts London Zoo; 4 Meerkats Are Missing

Blaze Shuts London Zoo; 4 Meerkats Are Missing


Firefighters battling a blaze at the London Zoo on Saturday that engulfed a gift shop and cafe.

London Fire Brigade, via Reuters

LONDON — More than 70 firefighters battled a blaze at the London Zoo early on Saturday that engulfed a cafe, killed at least one animal — an aardvark — and left some of the zoo’s staff suffering from smoke inhalation, the zoo said.

Four meerkats remained missing, a spokeswoman for the zoo said.

The zoo, in Regent’s Park in central London, will remain closed until further notice.

The fire broke out at ZSL London Zoo shortly about 6 a.m. local time in the Animal Adventure section — near an area where visitors feed the animals — and spread to an adjacent gift shop and cafe, the zoo said in a statement.

Staff members quickly moved animals like llamas and camels to safety, and the fire was brought under control about 9 a.m. Later, the zoo discovered that a 9-year-old aardvark named Misha had perished, the spokeswoman said.

“A number of zoo staff have been treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and shock,” the statement said. “Our staff are now in the process of assessing the situation in difficult conditions.”

The London Fire Brigade said it had sent 10 fire engines and 72 firefighters to the scene. The cause of the blaze was under investigation.

“The fire mainly affected the cafe and shop,” said Station Manager Clive Robinson. “Part of nearby animal petting area was also affected although at this stage we don’t know if any animals were involved.”

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