London Zoo reopens after aardvark dies in fire

London Zoo has reopened following a fire which killed several animals, destroyed a shop and cafe and left several people needing medical treatment.

A nine-year-old aardvark called Misha died in the blaze, while four meerkats remain missing and are presumed dead.

An initial post-mortem on the aardvark suggests she most likely died from smoke inhalation while sleeping.

Dominic Jermey, director general of the Zoological Society of London, told Sky News that staff were "devastated" by the loss of Misha, describing her as a "very popular animal with us".

Image:Four missing meerkats are presumed dead. Pic: ZSL London Zoo

Apart from the meerkats, all other animals are "safe and secure", the zoo has said.

The fire began at about 6am on Saturday in the tourist attraction's Animal Adventure section. As well as tearing through the shop and cafe, it also damaged half an adjacent petting zoo.

Some staff who live on site and who moved animals to safety were later treated for smoke inhalation.

More than 70 firefighters attended the scene, and managed to get the blaze under control by about 9.15am.

Picture the scene of a fire brought under control at London Zoo. Pic: LFB
Image:The scene of the fire at London Zoo. Pic: LFB

An investigation into the cause of the fire is under way.

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London Fire Brigade station manager David George said specialist fire investigation teams would search through the debris to try to find the cause of the blaze.

The zoo was forced to close on Saturday. Families that had tickets for the zoo's Meet Santa event will be offered a refund, it said.

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