LONDON — More than 70 firefighters battled a blaze at the London Zoo early Saturday that engulfed a cafe, killed at least one animal — an aardvark — and left some staff members suffering from smoke inhalation, the zoo said.
Four meerkats were missing, a spokeswoman for the zoo said.
The zoo, in Regent’s Park in central London, will remain closed until further notice.
The fire broke out shortly after 6 a.m. local time in the Animal Adventure section — near an area where visitors feed the animals — and destroyed an adjacent gift shop and cafe, the zoo said in a statement.
Half of a nearby petting zoo was also destroyed, according to the London Fire Brigade.
Staff members from the zoo quickly moved animals like llamas and camels to safety, and the fire was brought under control about 9:16 a.m.
“A number of zoo staff have been treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and shock,” the zoo said. “Our staff are now in the process of assessing the situation in difficult conditions.”
The zoo discovered later that a 9-year-old aardvark named Misha had died, the spokeswoman said.
“We are all naturally devastated by this, but are immensely grateful to the fire brigade, who reacted quickly to the situation to bring the fire under control,” the zoo said.
The London Fire Brigade, which sent 72 firefighters and 10 fire engines to the blaze, said a firefighter had suffered a wrist injury and was taken to the hospital as a precaution.
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