Early Saturday morning a massive fire broke out at the Animal Adventure section of the London Zoo, resulting in the death of a 10-year-old aardvark and the disappearance of several meerkats. According to Reuters, it took over 70 firefighters from the London Fire Brigade around three hours to put out the fire, which quickly spread to a nearby gift shop and cafe area. Misha the aardvark, described as “one of the attraction’s best-loved animals,” perished in the fire. Four meerkats associated with the same attraction, however, are still unaccounted for.
Dominic Jermey, the zoo’s director general, spoke to the press while staff members began searching for the missing meerkats and assessing the damage:
“We’re absolutely devastated that Misha the aardvark has been killed and we’re still trying to find out what happened to the meerkats, but at the moment the site where this fire took place is closed down,” he told BBC TV.
“At the moment we’re not certain what has happened to the meerkats but I‘m not optimistic at this stage, unfortunately.”
Fire brigade officials described it as a “very well developed fire” that required 10 fire engines and 72 firefighters total to be put out. “They worked incredibly hard in arduous conditions to bring it under control as quickly as possible and to stop it from spreading to neighboring animal enclosures,” station manager David George explained.