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Fire at London Zoo kills five animals

By Susan McFarland
Fire at London Zoo kills five animals
Firefighters stand at the site of London Zoo (ZSL) after a fire broke out Saturday at a cafe and shop on the zoo's grounds. A nine-year-old aardvark died in the fire and four meerkats are missing and presumed dead, officials reported. Photo by EPA-EFE/Will Oliver

Dec. 23 (UPI) -- A nine-year-old aardvark died and four meerkats are missing and presumed dead after a Saturday morning fire at London Zoo, officials reported.

ZSL London Zoo confirmed the 6 a.m. fire started in the Animal Adventure section and spread to an adjacent shop.

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"Sadly our vets have confirmed the death of our nine-year-old aardvark, Misha. There are also four meerkats still unaccounted for, but we are now presuming these have also died." zoo officials said in the statement. "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 fire, tackled by 72 firefighters, spread to a building that included a café, petting zoo and gift shop. Paramedics treated six people for smoke inhalation and two for minor injuries.

Animals that were in areas near the fire are being monitored but early signs show none were affected, zoo officials said. Cause of the fire remains under investigation. The zoo will reopen Sunday at 10 a.m.

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