These pictures show the ravaged remains of a burned-out monkey enclosure at a German zoo where dozens of animals died in a New Year’s Day fire.
Five orangutans, a 48-year-old silverback gorilla and dozens of monkeys as well as fruit bats and birds were among the creatures killed in the blaze at Krefeld zoo which broke out within the first hour of January 1.
Photos taken on Wednesday show debris and twisted metal inside the ape house, where only two chimpanzees were rescued alive.
Krefeld police, who were called out at 12.38am, say the fire is likely to have been caused by Chinese sky lanterns which were launched to celebrate the arrival of 2020.
Police have launched an investigation for ‘negligently criminal fire’ and hope to establish the path of the lanterns by analysing atmospheric conditions and wind direction.
Burned-out remains: Twisted metal inside the monkey enclosure at Krefeld zoo yesterday which was destroyed in a fire which killed dozens of animals including five orangutans and a 48-year-old silverback gorilla
Wreckage: The destroyed roof of the monkey enclosure is seen on Wednesday following the blaze at Krefeld zoo which broke out within the first hour of January 1
Destroyed: The wreckage of the monkey enclosure where dozens of animals were burned alive. Krefeld zoo said many employees were ‘in shock’ in the wake of the ‘terrible tragedy’
Centre of the fire: The enclosure where a blaze raced through a zoo in western Germany in the first few minutes of the new year, killing more than 30 animals, including apes, monkeys, bats and birds
Dozens of animals including apes, monkeys, bats and birds were burnt alive after an inferno swept through the monkey enclosure at a German zoo in the first minutes of 2020
Shattered: A view through a broken window into the burned-out monkey enclosure. The enclosure housed gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and marmosets. Only two chimpanzees survived, as well as a family of gorillas in a nearby building
Debris: The charred remains of the monkey enclosure on Wednesday, as investigators spoke to a number of people who may have used the Chinese lanterns feared to have caused the blaze
The zoo posted this picture of orangutans inside the monkey house just hours before the blaze
Firefighters work at the burning monkey house of the zoo in Krefeld, western Germany, on early January 1
Yesterday tearful visitors lit candles and left flowers and soft toys at the entrance of the zoo on Wednesday. One of the tributes asked simply: ‘Why?’.
‘Our worst fears have been realised,’ Krefeld zoo, which specialises in primates, announced on its Facebook page.
The zoo near the Dutch border said that the entire ape house burned down and more than 30 animals, including five orangutans, a 48-year-old silverback gorilla called Massa, a chimpanzee and several monkeys, as well as fruit bats and birds, were killed.
Only two chimpanzees could be rescued from the flames by firefighters. They suffered burns but are in stable condition, zoo director Wolfgang Dressen said.
‘It’s close to a miracle that Bally, a 40-year-old female chimpanzee, and Limbo, a younger male, survived this inferno,’ Dressen said.
Firefighters prevented the flames from spreading to other buildings at the zoo in North Rhine-Westphalia – meaning that gorilla Kidogo and six relatives who were in the Gorilla Garden survived the fire.
‘We have to seriously work through the mourning process,’ Dressen said. ‘This is an unfathomable tragedy.’
The zoo director also said than many of the dead animals were close to extinction in the wild.
Krefeld zoo planned to remain closed Wednesday with employees ‘in shock’ owing to the ‘terrible tragedy’, management said.
A makeshift shrine was set up at the entrance outside of the zoo in Krefeld in the wake of the New Year’s inferno
An aerial photo shows the scale of the inferno overnight. The entire structure was destroyed killing dozens of apes and monkeys
A 48-year-old silverback gorilla called Massa was among the animals killed in the inferno at the zoo overnight
Several witnesses reported that they had seen the cylindrical paper lanterns (file picture) with little fires inside flying in the night sky shortly after midnight Wednesday near the Krefeld zoo, Gerd Hoppmann, the city’s head of criminal police told reporters
A fire which broke out at the Zoo in Krefeld, Germany is pictured from a distance in the early hours of January 1
The zoo near the Dutch border said that the entire ape house burned down and more than 30 animals, including five orangutans, two gorillas, a chimpanzee and several monkeys, as well as fruit bats and birds, were killed
Police said the fire at at Krefeld zoo in northwestern Germany may have been caused by Chinese sky lanterns launched to celebrate the new year
Several witnesses reported that they had seen the cylindrical paper lanterns with little fires inside flying in the night sky shortly after midnight Wednesday near the Krefeld zoo, Gerd Hoppmann, the city’s head of criminal police told reporters
Aftermath: This was the scene after fire ripped through the monkey enclosure in a blaze believed to have been started by sky lanterns
Candles, soft toys and notes were left at the entrance of the zoo this afternoon as the scale of the inferno became clear
A note with text ‘in silent commemoration and loving memory’ at the entrance outside of the zoo in Krefeld
Police have launched an investigation into ‘arson through negligence’ after the deadly blaze and a number of people who may have used the Chinese lanterns have spoken to investigators.
Several witnesses reported that they had seen the cylindrical paper lanterns with little fires inside flying in the night sky shortly after midnight.
Three lanterns bearing hand-written New Year’s wishes were later discovered in the smouldering debris.
Gerd Hoppmann, the city’s head of police, said the use of sky lanterns is illegal in Krefeld and most other parts of German.
‘People reported seeing those sky lanterns flying at low altitude near the zoo and then it started burning,’ Hoppmann said.
The German animal protection association quickly called for all kinds of fireworks to be banned near zoos, farms and kennels.
The deadly blaze was ‘terrible proof of the dramatic consequences for animals’ from ‘uncontrolled’ celebrations, the group said.
Chinese lanterns are a type of hot-air balloon made of paper, and have been used in Asia for celebratory events for centuries. The fire heats the air inside, making them fly and shine at night.
Hoppmann said investigators found some used lanterns on the ground that had not burned entirely. They were 13 inches, made out of white paper with an opening at the bottom where a small fire would have been suspended.
The Krefeld zoo was opened in 1975 and attracts some 400,000 visitors each year. It will remain closed on Wednesday.
A 48-year-old gorilla called Massa (left) was killed in the inferno while another, Kidogo (right), survived in the outdoor enclosure
The blaze at Krefeld zoo in northwestern Germany destroyed the entire ape house killing dozens of animals inside while fruit bats and birds also died in the fire
Firefighters at the burned-out monkey house of the zoo in Krefeld. It was not clear what started the fire although local media have reported that it could have been caused by fireworks
The burned-out monkey house of the zoo in Krefeld pictured in the early hours of January 1
Firefighters at work at the destroyed monkey house in Krefeld, Germany
Firefighters in front of the shelled-out animal house which was destroyed by a sudden fire on New Year’s Eve
Firefighters work at the burned-out monkey house. The blaze destroyed the monkey enclosure, which opened in 1975, shortly before midnight