Published on : Thursday, January 2, 2020
More than 30 animals were killed when a gushing fire tore through a monkey enclosure at Krefeld Zoo in northwestern Germany in the early hours of New Year’s Day. Krefeld Zoo is a popular tourist hot-spot in Germany attracting huge crowds. Krefeld Zoo initially said all the animals had been killed, but later reported that two chimpanzees had survived.
Zoo director Wolfgang Dressen told reporters at a media conference that their Monkey House fell victim to a fire that started more or less around midnight. They don’t know exactly when it started yet, but it burned down the house completely. Dressen said at least 30 animals died and that it was “the hardest day that Krefeld Zoo has ever had.
For them it is especially tragic that the tenants of this house, birds and mammals, were victims of the fire last night, he added. Among them were highly endangered monkeys like orangutans from Borneo, lowland gorillas from Central Africa and chimpanzees from West Africa. Rare Bornean orangutans, chimpanzees and marmosets lived in the 2,000 sq m (21,500 sq ft) monkey house. The police say the fire may have been caused by Chinese or “sky” lanterns used to celebrate New Year.
The people reported that seeing those sky lanterns flying at low altitude near the zoo and then it started burning,” said Gerd Hoppmann, the city’s head of criminal police. He said investigators had also found used lanterns near the burnt down enclosure.
Known as a fire hazard, sky lanterns are banned in Germany. The monkey house at Krefeld Zoo was built in 1975 and recreated a tropical climate for rainforest inhabitants, which included fruit bats and free-flying birds, as well as primates. The zoo also confirmed that the Gorilla Garden nearby – which houses western lowland gorillas – was spared. Kidogo – the gorilla that lives there with his family – was fine, Krefeld Zoo said.
The zoo authority asks for understanding and cooperation that they cannot be there for the visitors.