Chester Zoo raises £40,000 in just hours after a devastating fire

Chester zoo confirms animals died in the devastating blaze that destroyed the crocodile and monkey enclosure as wellwishers raise £40,000 in just hours

  • The blaze tore through the Monsoon Forest area and destroyed much of the roof
  • Insects, frogs, fish and small birds were killed but the mammals were rescued 
  • Almost 800 donors had raised more than £10,000 for the zoo by early on Sunday

Chester Zoo has announced that some of its animals died in yesterday’s fire, as the attraction raised nearly £40,000 in a matter of hours. 

Insects, frogs, fish and small birds were killed in the blaze which tore through the Monsoon Forest area on Saturday. 

The orangutans, gibbons and crocodiles who lived in the habitat were rescued from the flames but the zoo said today it was ‘devastated’ to say it had been unable to save some of the smaller creatures.  

The zoo, which re-opened today, said it had been inundated with messages from people asking how they could lend their support. 

Flames and smoke pour from the Monsoon Forest area of Chester Zoo, home to crocodiles and orangutans, in a blaze which forced the attraction to be evacuated and closed on Saturday 

A firefighter is lifted in a crane above the Monsoon Forest enclosure after the blaze broke out there on Saturday morning 

By Sunday lunchtime a JustGiving page had collected around £40,000 from 2,250 donors. 

The zoo said in a statement today: ‘Yesterday was one of the toughest days in Chester Zoo’s long history. 

‘The remarkable efforts from the zoo team and the emergency services meant the fire was extinguished as quickly as possible.

‘Keepers were able to encourage all mammal species away from the fire and to safety – including the zoo’s group of critically endangered Sumatran orangutans, Sulawesi macaques, endangered silvery gibbons and birds such as rhinoceros hornbills. 

‘We are though, devastated to say that we were unable to save some of our insects, frogs, fish and small birds who were located near to the outbreak of the fire. 

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‘It’s absolutely heart-breaking to lose any animal, especially when conservationists have worked so hard to breed these wonderful species. 

‘We remain committed to our mission to prevent extinction and for those who’re asking how they can help, we would welcome a donation to our continuing conservation work.’

Eyewitnesses described how visitors to the attraction – billed as the largest indoor zoo exhibit in the UK – were rushed to safety as the blaze spread rapidly through the polymer roofing material.

One person was treated for smoke inhalation as a result of the fire, according to North West Ambulance Service. 

Meanwhile zoo staff led the animals housed in the structure to safety as firefighters arrived on the scene.

Fire engines at the scene of the blaze that ravaged the roof of the Monsoon Forest habitat area

Chester Zoo after the fire broke out in the Monsoon Forest habitat area, which houses crocodiles and endangered Sumatran orangutans 

Fire crews spray water on the Monsoon Forest habitat area at Chester Zoo after the fire broke out at around 11.30 on Saturday morning 

One witness at the 125-acre park said they had seen ‘orangutans coming out and the gibbons swinging around the netting on the enclosure’.  

One eyewitness, David Clough, 50, who lives across the road from the zoo, said high winds fanned the flames in the roof of the building.

He added: ‘We were very worried for the people and animals that would have been in the building.’

He added: ‘Orangutans and gibbons are our nearest neighbours there, but there are many other animals, including free-flying birds.’

Another visitor said: ‘We were in the monsoon enclosure when it happened and were rushed out due to an electrical fire. It spread very quickly.

‘The staff ensured all the members of the public were safe. Many staff (were) running towards the fire, (I’m) assuming to help with evacuating animals.’ 

Crocodiles, orangutans and snakes were among the animals under threat as 15 fire engines tried to bring the blaze under control 

The enclosure at Chester Zoo – which is home to around 21,000 animals – which caught fire on Saturday is seen from the air in a file photo 

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