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Germany Zoo Fire

Berlin: A fire at a zoo in western Germany killed a large number of animals in the early hours of the new year, authorities said.

They did not comment on local media reports that the fire was started by celebratory fireworks. The Krefeld zoo near the Dutch border said the entire ape house burned down and all the animals inside are dead.

The blaze destroyed the monkey enclosure, which opened in 1975, shortly before midnight. But firefighters prevented the flames from spreading to other buildings at the zoo in North Rhine-Westphalia.

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The dpa news agency, quoting officials, said the dead animals included chimpanzees, orangutans, marmosets and two gorillas, as well as fruit bats and birds. Police said at least 30 of the animals had died.

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The zoo said the nearby Gorilla Garden didn’t go up in flames, however. Gorilla Kidogo and his family are alive, the zoo wrote on Facebook early Wednesday.

“An unfathomable tragedy hit us shortly after midnight. Our ape building burned down to the foundation,” the zoo, which specialises in primates, announced on its Facebook page. “Our worst fears have been realised,” it said.

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Both the zoo and the city administration said they didn’t know the cause of the fire and that police are investigating.

The zoo would remain closed during Wednesday with employees “in shock” after a “terrible tragedy”, the management said.