London

London Zoo reopens after aardvark and meerkats die in fire

Visitors queuing for the entrance on Sunday Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The zoo reopened on Sunday after being shut on Saturday after the fire

London Zoo has reopened following a fire which killed a number of animals and left several staff needing medical attention.

An aardvark called Misha died and it is thought meerkats Robbie, Norman, Billy and Nigel were also killed.

One person was taken to hospital and eight were treated at the scene.

The zoo said families had offered to help clear up and local builders were offering help with rebuilding enclosures.

About 70 firefighters tackled the blaze in the Animal Adventure section that spread to a shop. The cause of the fire is till unclear.

Families who had tickets for the zoo's Meet Santa experience on Saturday will be offered refunds, the zoo said.

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Media captionLondon Zoo 'devastated' by aardvark fire death
Image copyright Brendan Cooney/Reuters
Image caption Photographs posted on social media showed orange flames rising from the building
Image caption London Zoo reopened on Christmas Eve following the fire

Ten fire engines went to the zoo, which is in Regent's Park, shortly after 06:00 GMT on Saturday.

The fire was brought under control about three hours later.

Image copyright London Fire Brigade
Image copyright Charlie Bard

In a statement the zoo said it was devastated about what had happened but was overwhelmed by the support of the community.

"While it's been heartening to hear the chatter of excited children back in the zoo again today, our work investigating all aspects of the fire continues", Dominic Jermey, director general at ZSL said.

"One important update is that our vets completed an initial post-mortem on Misha, the aardvark; they have concluded that she most likely died from smoke inhalation whilst asleep in her den.

"Sadly though, after a thorough search of the site, we must presume that our four meerkats - brothers Robbie, Norman, Billy and Nigel - have died.

"We've been overwhelmed by the hundreds of emails, phone calls and letters of support from all over the country - these kind and generous messages range from families offering to give up their Christmas Day to help us clean up, to offers from local builders to rebuild the enclosures for us."

Image caption The blaze, which broke out in the children's area, damaged the Adventure Cafe roof

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