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Fire-hit Chester Zoo launches £50,000 fundraising campaign

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Chester Zoo has launched a £50,000 fundraising campaign after fire damaged one of its exhibits.

Visitors were evacuated and the zoo was closed when a blaze broke out and destroyed much of the roof covering its Monsoon Forest area on Saturday.

Orangutans, crocodiles, turtles and exotic birds were among the species living in the southeast Asian environment-style habitat.

A fire has broken out at Chester Zoo. File pic
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Attempts to trace all the animals will take ‘some time’, officials say

All the mammals were found within hours of the fire breaking out but attempting to trace all the animals would take “some time”, officials said.

The zoo, which is due to open on Sunday, said it had been inundated with messages of support.

“Following on from the fire in our Monsoon Forest habitat, we’re overwhelmed by the sheer number of people asking how they can support,” the zoo said.

“Thank you so much for all your kind messages, they mean so much at this difficult time.

“We remain committed to our mission to prevent extinction and for those who’re asking how they can help, we would welcome a donation to our continuing conservation work.”

A JustGiving fundraising page has already received more than £8,000 in donations.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service declared a major incident after it was called to the zoo shortly before 11.30am on Saturday.

One person was treated for smoke inhalation as a result of the fire, the North West Ambulance Service said.

David Clough, 50, who lives across the road from the zoo, said high winds fanned the flames in the roof of the building.

Fire can be seen coming from the zoo. Pic: FYJJoinery
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Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service declared a major incident. Pic: FYJJoinery

He added: “We were very worried for the people and animals that would have been in the building.

“Orangutans and gibbons are our nearest neighbours there, but there are many other animals, including free-flying birds.”

One visitor, who declined to be named, said they were in the monsoon enclosure before being “rushed out due to an electrical fire”.

“It spread very quickly,” the visitor said.

“The staff ensured all the members of the public were safe. Many staff (were) running towards the fire, (I’m) assuming to help with evacuating animals.”

Chester Zoo is home to 21,000 animals.

Last year, five animals died in a blaze which had to be tackled by 72 firefighters at London Zoo.

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