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Aardvark and four meerkats perish in London zoo blaze

PUBLISHED: 09:23 24 December 2017 | UPDATED: 09:27 24 December 2017

A spokesman for the zoo confirmed the death of Misha the aardvark.  Four meerkats who are unaccounted for. Picture: ZSL/PA Wire.

A spokesman for the zoo confirmed the death of Misha the aardvark. Four meerkats who are unaccounted for. Picture: ZSL/PA Wire.

Staff at London zoo said they are devastated that several animals perished when a fire broke out at the attraction in Regents Park yesterday.

Smoke rises from the Adventure cafe and shop near the Meerkat enclosure at London Zoo following a fire earlier Saturday.  Photo. Dominic Lipinski/PA WireSmoke rises from the Adventure cafe and shop near the Meerkat enclosure at London Zoo following a fire earlier Saturday. Photo. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The zoo, due to reopen today Christmas Eve, confirmed that nine-year-old Misha the aardvark had died during the blaze and four meerkats, who remain unaccounted for, are also presumed dead.

The fire broke out at approximately 6am on Saturday in the Animal Adventure section of the zoo, and spread to an adjacent shop.

Dominic Jermey, director general for the Zoological Society of London, told the Press Association: “We are absolutely devastated that Misha has passed away.

“We had our vet team on site immediately but sadly there was nothing that they could do for Misha.”

A zoo spokeswoman said the four meerkats, who are unaccounted for as a result of limited access to the site, were presumed dead.

She said the zoo, which was closed on Saturday, would reopen on Christmas Eve.

Keepers who live on site were on the scene immediately after the fire broke out and started moving animals to safety.

Some of the staff were treated for smoke inhalation and shock at the scene.

Mr Jermey said: “Given the circumstances they are fine but they, like all of us, are absolutely devastated by this incident today.”

More than 70 firefighters attended the incident, which was brought under control by 9.16am.

All other animals in the vicinity of the blaze are being monitored by vets, and early signs suggest they have not been affected.

London Fire Brigade station manager David George said it is not currently known what caused the fire.

He told the Press Association: “Our specialist fire investigation teams will be searching through the debris and looking and seeing if they can establish a likely cause for the fire.”

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