An entire colony of 13 Patas monkeys were trapped in their cage and killed during a devastating blaze at a safari park – just 10 days after five animals died following a fire at London Zoo.
The fire ripped through their winter enclosure at the Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire for more than two hours and killed all of the Patas monkeys on the site.
Fire crews have now blamed a faulty generator for causing the blaze which virtually completely destroyed the building after the roof collapsed.
It comes just days after blaze broke out in the animal adventure section at London Zoo on December 23, which killed a nine-year-old aardvark and four meerkats.
The monkeys are allowed to explore the huge area at the park (pictured) but were sleeping in their winter enclosure at the time of the fire
The blaze has wiped out a whole colony of Patas monkeys (pictured, one of the monkeys at the park) and police are not investigating
The Jungle enclosure at the popular safari park remains closed today as those in charge investigate what caused the fire
A family of Barbary macaques were photographed on Tuesday – hours after the fire killed the other monkeys at the safari park
Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said: ‘We have concluded that it is likely that the fire started accidentally in a generator.’
It is believed that the enclosure which the monkeys were staying in had only been built last year.
Drew Mullin, a park spokesman, told Sky News: ‘When the fire crew arrived, unfortunately they found it was at the jungle and it’s the Patas house.
‘On arrival, the roof had already collapsed, and nothing could be done to save the 13 Patas that were inside.
‘Everybody here – staff, animal keepers – are all devastated.’
He added: ‘They’ve inspected it – the house – and said, from what they can see, there may well be a generator fault. But we will have to do the investigations to find out.’
Paul Goddard, the Fire Station Commander at Kempston, told the BBC he was ‘surprised at the amount of animals still in the cage which couldn’t get out’ while firefighters desperately tried to put out the blaze.
He said: ‘Our first instinct would be to rescue the animals if we could, but to do that we need to get the fire under control.
‘But the location of the incident and where it was made that difficult to assess.’
‘From the staff’s point of view, they are devastated with the loss of the monkeys, and obviously the building and the effect that it has on their staff within the park.’
The park also confirmed it is investigating what caused the fire and the Jungle enclosure will be the only part which will remain closed.
The blaze wiped out all of the park’s Patas monkey troop, and, according to website UK Zoos, the only other place in the UK that houses them is Colchester Zoo in Essex.
The Patas monkeys are the park’s most-loved animals because they often climb on cars as visitors drive through and staff are said to be devastated today.
Fire Station Commander at Kempston Paul Goddard was speaking after the devastating blaze on Tuesday
The Patas monkey enclosure is in the centre of the park (pictured) and is one of its most popular attractions
All of the 13 monkeys living in the winter enclosure at the Woburn Safari Park (stock image of Patas monkeys at the park) died following the fire
Animal lovers were quick to share their sadness after hearing that the 13 monkeys had perished in the fire.
Martin Underhay wrote on Twitter: ‘This is so sad. We love monkey world and so sad to see so many of these incredible animals being killed at Woburn.’
Siobhan @Mum-to-4 said: ‘Really sad to read this. We always loved seeing the monkeys at @Woburn-Safari. Thoughts with everyone dealing with this. Poor monkeys.’
Pam Graney added: ‘So so so sad only down the road from me. Horrid news to wake up to.’
Some users were quick to criticise the park for caging the animals.
@Fiendish-Swine wrote: ‘Woburn Safari Park fire: Thirteen monkeys killed, another reason why animals should not be caged up in a zoo, firstly London Zoo now this shame on the owners.’
However, responding to the comments on Twitter, @AsherRD28 said: ‘Anyone that has been to @Woburn-Safari knows what a great park it is. This is just a terrible freak accident.
‘Animals there are very well looked after and people forget that they have taken in numerous endangered animals from around the world, so many negative people quick to blame.’
Usually the Patas monkeys are allowed to freely roam around their 16-acre enclosure but they were seeking shelter from the cold weather when the fire started.
Emergency services were called at 2.37am on Tuesday after staff spotted the blaze during a routine patrol of the African Forest drive-through area.
They rushed to the scene but none of the 13 animals inside could be saved.
The Patas monkeys are housed in their enclosure during the winter months but have 24/7 access to the site in the summer.
Fire crews rushed to the Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire in the early hours of Tuesday
Staff at the park in Bedfordshire (pictured) were said to be distraught after the fire in the early hours of this morning
A spokesman for the safari park confirmed it is open today and said: ‘In the early hours of Tuesday January 2, a fire broke out in the Patas Monkey house within the African Forest drive-through enclosure of the park.
‘Staff and fire crews attended the scene, however devastatingly for everyone at the park, none of the thirteen animals could be saved.
‘All other animals within the jungle drive-through enclosure are being monitored, but early signs suggest that they have not been affected.
‘The park is grateful to the quick response from Bedfordshire Fire Brigade, who attended with three appliances.’
Patas monkeys can live up to 20 years old
Male Patas monkeys can weigh up to 12kg – 5.5kg more than females.
The monkeys can live up to 20 years old and typically reside in open grassland or woodland and can grow up to 85cm in length with a tail length of 75cm.
At Woburn, they stay with Barbary macaques and a herd of Eastern Mountain Bongo in the 16-acre enclosure.
The animals live in social groups which consist of up to 40 females and just one male.
The males only interact with females during the breeding season.
Fire crews were able to put the fire out at 4.46am and firefighters said 90 per cent of the building was damaged.
A Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said: ‘Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service attended a fire at a monkey enclosure at Woburn Safari Park at 2.37am this morning.
‘When firefighters from Woburn and Dunstable Community Fire Stations arrived along with the water carrier from Toddington they found the outbuilding housing Patas monkeys was well alight and its roof had fallen in.
‘They fought the fire using fire hoses while wearing breathing apparatus to protect themselves from the smoke and fumes. The building was 90 per cent damaged by the fire.
‘The fire was spotted by security guards on a routine patrol. There were a number of fatalities amongst the monkeys housed in the building. The incident was closed at 4.46am.’
In March 2000, an entire colony of Rhesus Macaque monkeys were culled by six marksman after tests revealed that they were carrying the Simian herpes B virus at the park.
It comes after a blaze broke out in the animal adventure section at London Zoo on December 23, destroying the cafe, shop and around half of the adjacent petting zoo.
Misha, a nine-year-old aardvark, died from smoke inhalation, while four meerkats were also thought to have perished.
It is not yet known what caused either the London Zoo fire or the Woburn Safari Park blaze.