Tragic Blaze Wipes out Dwarf Goats: German Police Suspect Arson in Zoo Fire That Killed 26 Animals

Police suspect a fire that killed 26 animals in Karlsruhe Zoo on Friday night was caused by arson. The fire brigade were too late to save miniature donkeys, ponies, dwarf goats and sheep but were able to lead elephants, hippos and flamingos to safety. Fire experts launched an investigation on Monday.

Photo Gallery: Blaze Kills Animals in Karlsruhe Zoo Photos
dpa

A fire tore through the petting zoo enclosure of Karlsruhe Zoo in southern Germany on Friday night, killing 26 animals including six Wallachian sheep, six African dwarf goats, four Shetland ponies and two miniature Sardinian donkeys.

Firemen battling the blaze managed to rescue four elephants and two hippos at the last minute. Local police in the south-western German city now suspect arson, having found two burning rubbish containers only a short distance away from the zoo. However, a technical defect has not been ruled out as the cause. Investigators should have a better idea of how the fire began as soon as Monday afternoon.

By the time the emergency services were called out early on Saturday morning, the wooden stalls of the petting zoo were already ablaze. According to Roland Goetz, head of the local fire services, most of the trapped animals would have died from smoke inhalation.

Hippos and Elephants Saved

Due to strong winds, the blaze spread quickly to the elephant and hippopotamus enclosures. "The elephants were exceptionally calm and composed, despite the fact that they were enveloped in smoke," Goetz said. Around 70 flamingos also had to be rescued from the elephant enclosure, which was badly damaged. More than 100 firemen managed to save the hippo area.

The director of the zoo, Gisela von Hegel, spoke of her shock. "We must process this slowly," she told local media, adding that she had never experienced a fire in the zoo over the 37 years she had worked there. By Sunday the zoo was open again, although von Hegel said that many visitors were stopping, upset, by the charred remains of the petting zoo. "We are getting a lot of enquiries about how people can donate money for the rebuilding of the petting zoo," she said.

cis -- with wire reports

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