13 monkeys die in fire at UK safari park attraction

Officials say the cause of the Woburn Safari Park fire is being investigated. (Credit AP)

LONDON (AP) — Officials say 13 monkeys have died in a fire at a safari park in England, marking the second major fire at an animal attraction in the last two weeks.

The fire started early Tuesday morning in the Patas monkey house at Woburn Safari Park, located 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of London. The enclosure is part of the African Forest drive-through section of the popular attraction.

The park said in a statement that nothing could be done to prevent the death of the 13 Patas monkeys. "Staff and fire crews attended the scene; however, devastatingly for everyone at the park, none of the 13 animals could be saved," the park said.

Firefighters found the Patas monkey house ablaze with the roof caved in when they arrived. Officials said 90 percent of the building was damaged.

It took about two hours to control the fire.

Fire station commander Paul Goddard said it is likely the monkeys died before firefighters arrived on the scene.

"Our first instinct would be to rescue the animals if we could, but to do that we need to get the fire under control," he said.

Early indications are that other animals were not injured. The safari park houses a variety of animals including elephants, lions and zebras.

The fire follows a Dec. 23 blaze at London Zoo that killed an aardvark and four meerkats. The cause of that fire, which badly damaged a cafe, has not been established.

The London zoo Tuesday postponed its annual animal census, which is required by law in order for the zoo to maintain its operating license, because of the fire.

Officials say the cause of the Woburn Safari Park fire is being investigated. The park will remain open except for the African jungle enclosure section.

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