Blaze kills every creature in tropical house at zoo

A FIERCE fire at a zoo has claimed the lives of a number of animals, including an otter, meerkats and reptiles.

The blaze broke out in the tropical house of the Five Sisters Zoo
at Polbeth, West Calder, West Lothian, shortly before 4am yesterday.

About 50 firefighters tackled the blaze at its height and managed to stop it spreading to other enclosures at the attraction.

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But the fire killed every creature in the tropical house, which contained a range of reptiles, invertebrates and small mammals.

A male otter in a neighbouring enclosure also died and two meerkats had to be put down because of their injuries. Nine meerkats are missing, feared dead.

Fire crews managed to rescue two dwarf west African crocodiles and the female otter. No people were injured.

The owners, staff and volunteers at the zoo were said to be distraught. Lesley Coupar, of marketing and visitor services at the zoo, said: “We are devastated.
It’s the worst nightmare. We’re
in the business of rescuing animals, giving a safe haven to animals.

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“Although the animals are wild, we know them intimately and it’s just such a tragedy. The owners are distraught, as are the staff and volunteers.”

Snakes, lizards, turtles, tortoises and an ant colony were among the creatures which perished in the blaze.

Zoo bosses have also been working to assess the impact of the
fire on the nearby meerkat enclosure.

Ms Coupar said: “Nine of them are missing. Two had to be euthanised because of their injuries and two are being cared for by the vet and keepers.”

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Staff expressed relief that the fire, which occurred on a day of high winds, did not spread further.

“Very close by we’ve got lemurs, the monkey house, a whole variety of birds in enclosures and because it’s such an intense small area, it could have spread very quickly,” said Ms Coupar.

The zoo has received hundreds of messages of support and offers of help from members of the public, for which bosses have expressed their thanks.

They are now working to open the attraction as soon as possible and care for the animals that remain at the zoo.

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