Devastating fire kills countless endangered animals at zoo in Germany

Devastating fire kills countless endangered animals at zoo in Germany

BERLIN-Fire ripped through the monkey house at Krefeld zoo in northwestern Germany on New Year's Eve killing dozens of animals, including orangutans, chimpanzees and marmosets, management said Wednesday.

The fire, which police believe may have been caused by sky lanterns launched to celebrate the New Year, took place in the first minutes of 2020 this morning.

The Krefeld zoo near the Dutch border said the entire ape house burned down and most of the animals inside are dead. Two chimpanzees, Bally and Limbo, survived, the zoo said.

"Among them were highly endangered monkeys like orangutans from Borneo, lowland gorillas from Central Africa and chimpanzees from West Africa".

However, the zoo said on Facebook that the nearby Gorilla Garden escaped the flames and that gorilla Kidogo and his family are alive.

"An unbelievable tragedy rolled us shortly after midnight". 'Our ape building burned down to the foundation'.

The establishment, which remained closed to the public on New Year's Day, said: "We are still in shock and can not yet say exactly if and where help is needed". The fire heats the air inside, making them fly and shine at night.

Krefeld police said investigators were verifying their statements.

In what was described by the zoo director Wolfgang Dreßen as a rescue "miracle", the pair were reportedly brought to safety after their screams were heard by firefighters.

"We ask for your understanding that we can not be there for you today", it said regarding its decision to close on New Year's Day.

"People reported seeing those sky lanterns flying at low altitude near the zoo and then it started burning", Hoppmann said. "This is an unfathomable tragedy".

The Krefeld zoo, which opened in 1975, attracts 400,000 visitors each year.

Criminal police officer Hoppmann said that the use of sky lanterns is illegal in Krefeld and most other parts of Germany and asked that whoever launched them or people who witnessed anything to come forward to authorities.

He added that some of the white paper lanterns, which measured 34cm long, had not burned up entirely and some had handwritten notes inside.

The zoo will remain closed on New Year's Day.

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