Chester Zoo blaze was caused by electrical fault

Chester Zoo blaze which killed insects, birds and reptiles while orangutans and crocodiles were saved was caused by electrical fault

  • The blaze tore through the Monsoon Forest area and destroyed much of the roof
  • Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service have said the blaze was started accidentally 
  • More than 80 firefighters were involved and all the zoo’s mammal species saved 

A fire at Chester Zoo which killed insects, birds and reptiles was caused by an electrical fault, an investigation has found.

Visitors had to be evacuated from the zoo on Saturday after the blaze broke out in the Monsoon Forest habitat building.

Keepers were able to move all the zoo’s mammal species – including a group of critically-endangered Sumatran orangutans – to safety.

Today a Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman confirmed the fire had started accidentally and was caused by an electrical fault.

Drone footage shows the damage caused to the Monsoon Forest habitat building at Chester Zoo after a fire ripped through it on Saturday

More than 80 firefighters battled the blaze (damage pictured) and some helped zoo staff lead animals to safety even carrying turtles and tortoises

Fire service area manager Lee Shears said: ‘This was a large and complex operation involving more than 80 firefighters from Cheshire, Merseyside and North Wales fire and rescue services.

‘Firefighters and zoo staff worked closely together in an incredibly challenging situation to evacuate the building and rescue as many animals as possible.


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‘The professionalism and expertise of the staff at the zoo meant that many precious species were saved.’

The service revealed firefighters aided zoo staff as the blaze ripped through the enclosure by carrying turtles and tortoises to safety.

Crews also helped to shut the gates behind the large mammals, such as gibbons and orangutans, after keepers coaxed them to their outside habitats. 

All the zoo’s mammal species including a group of Sumatran orangutans, were moved to safety

More than £140,000 has been raised in donations from the public following the fire but the zoo said this money will be put towards conservation work

Jamie Christon, Chester Zoo’s chief operating officer, added: ‘We’re grateful that the fire and rescue service has been able to conclude its investigation into the cause of the fire so swiftly.

‘We would again like to thank them for their valiant efforts on the day, which helped us to rescue so many animals and minimise the extent of the damage.

‘Our efforts now will focus on rebuilding Monsoon Forest so we can return some very special species back to their home and continue our mission to prevent extinction.’

More than £140,000 has been raised in donations from the public following the fire.

Bosses at the attraction say insurance will pay for fire damage and the cash, donated by more than 7,700 people, will be spent on conservation work.

The zoo described it as ‘one of the toughest days in our long history’.

Eyewitnesses said high winds fanned the flames in the roof of the building when the fire broke out just before 11.30am on Saturday and one person was treated for smoke inhalation, according to North West Ambulance Service. 

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