Thirteen monkeys die in fire at Woburn Safari Park

2 January 2018, 09:13

Thirteen monkeys have died following a fire at Woburn Safari Park.

The fire broke out in the patas monkey house in the the park's African Forest drive-through area in the early hours on Tuesday, a park spokesman said, with the enclosure "well alight" by the time firefighters arrived at the scene.

The roof of the outbuilding collapsed in the blaze.

In a statement, the safari park said: "Staff and fire crews attended the scene, however, devastatingly for everyone at the park, none of the 13 animals could be saved.

"All other animals within the jungle drive-through enclosure are being monitored, but early signs suggest that they have not been affected.

"An investigation is under way into the cause of the fire and whilst the park will remain open, the jungle enclosure will remain closed for investigation.

"The park is grateful to the quick response from Bedfordshire Fire Brigade, who attended with three appliances."

The fire was spotted by security guards during a routine patrol at about 2.30am. Firefighters confirmed they attended shortly afterwards.

Safari park spokesman Drew Mullin told Sky News an initial investigation by the fire service indicated the blaze had been caused by a generator fault.

He said: "We must now clear up and look after the staff. They are devastated, they build up a bond with the animals.

"We will keep the jungle closed for today, tomorrow and the next few days and then we will make a decision about reopening."

A Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said the outbuilding housing the atas monkeys "was well alight and its roof had fallen in" when firefighters arrived.

"They fought the fire using fire hoses while wearing breathing apparatus to protect themselves from the smoke and fumes. The building was 90% damaged by the fire."

Firefighters closed the incident at 4.46am.

It comes 10 days after four meerkats and a nine-year-old aardvark were killed in a fire at London Zoo on December 23.

An investigation into the cause of that blaze is also being carried out.

According to Woburn's website, its patas monkeys shared a 16-acre space with barbary macaques and a herd of mountain bongo.

They were free to roam all night during summer months, but would have been housed indoors during the colder winter nights.

In the wild, patas monkeys are classified as being of "least concern" so are not thought to be under threat.