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Chester Zoo fire funds to be spent on conservation

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Media captionMembers of the public filmed the fire as it took hold

Chester Zoo says £120,000 pledged by well-wishers following a fire will be spent on "conservation projects".

The blaze broke out in the Monsoon Forest area on Saturday, destroying much of its roof.

Orangutans, macaques, gibbons and larger birds were saved, but some frogs, fish, snakes and small birds died.

Firefighters said the blaze was "accidental" but more time was needed to determine the exact cause.

An online appeal by the zoo, which reopened on Sunday, raised more than £100,000 in 24 hours - double its target - and is nearing £120,000.

Image copyright Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service
Image caption The blaze broke out in the Monsoon Forest area on Saturday, destroying much of its roof

Jamie Christon, the zoo's chief operating officer, told the BBC the cost of repairing the fire-hit building would be covered by insurance.

He said: "The money and the fact we opened the JustGiving page was based on the overwhelming number of requests from people saying, how can we donate to the zoo...how can we help your cause and your missions?

"That money will spent on conservation projects, either here or around the world."

Image copyright David Clough
Image caption The Monsoon Forest habitat is the UK's largest zoological building, according to the attraction

Mr Christon said the zoo was working with Cheshire Police and the fire service to complete an investigation into what happened.

He said one of the main areas of focus would be moving and rehoming animals within the zoo.

"It's quite a complex task. For example, we have got 51 primate moves - that's 51 moves of large mammal species across the zoo over the next few days to make sure their welfare is maintained," he said.

Some animals will stay in Monsoon Forest as the fire only affected the right-hand side of the building.

The tourist attraction, which has more than 21,000 animals, said all the creatures led to safety were being relocated within the 125-acre site and described the loss of others as "heartbreaking".

In an earlier statement, Mr Christon said the zoo was "devastated" some insects, frogs, fish and small birds could not be saved.

"These include a number of question mark cockroaches, Amano shrimps, betta hendra fish, cinnamon frogs, tentacled snakes and birds such as grosbeak starlings," he said.

He added that the animals were "part of conservation breeding programmes" and said the zoo "will look to be part of those vital projects once again in the near future".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The zoo has more than 21,000 animals
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Orangutans at the zoo were among those saved

More than 15 fire crews and ambulance staff attended after the blaze broke out just before 11:30 GMT on Saturday.

One person was treated for smoke inhalation.

The zoo said an investigation would take place in the coming weeks and part of the Monsoon Forest area and Islands zone remain shut.

The Monsoon Forest habitat is the UK's largest zoological building, according to the attraction. It opened in August 2015.

The 14-acre section has its own climate, with temperatures reaching 26.6C to replicate conditions in South East Asia.

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