Fire at London Zoo leaves one aardvark dead and four meerkats 'unaccounted for'

Some zoo staff were treated for smoke inhalation & shock

Fire at London Zoo leaves one aardvark dead and four meerkats 'unaccounted for'

Picture by: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/PA Images

Updated 13.00

An aardvark has died and four meerkats are unaccounted for after a blaze at London Zoo.

10 fire engines and 72 firefighters attended the scene, which affected a café and shop at the zoo.

A number of zoo staff have been treated for smoke inhalation and shock.

Fire crews arrived at the scene shortly after 6am, and the blaze had been brought under control by 9.15am.

The zoo has been closed for the day.

In a statement, the zoo said: "Sadly our vets have confirmed the death of our nine-year-old aardvark, Misha. There are also four meerkats unaccounted for at this stage, and we have limited access to site to confirm this.

"All other animals in the vicinity are being monitored closely by our vets, but early signs suggest they have not been affected. We will continue to monitor them over the coming days."

It adds: "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.

Earlier, London Fire Brigade's Clive Robinson explained: "The fire mainly affected the café and shop. Part of nearby animal petting area was also affected.

"Firefighters worked hard to bring the fire under control as quickly as possible and to stop it from spreading to neighbouring animal enclosures. Crews will remain at the scene throughout the morning damping down any remaining pockets of fire."

An investigation is underway into the cause of the blaze.

London Zoo was originally opened to the public in the mid-19th century, and is located in the city's Regent's Park.