Thirteen Patas monkeys killed as fire torches UK’s Woburn Safari Park

A devastating blaze has killed 13 monkeys living at a safari park when a roof collapsed, just 10 days after five animals died following a fire at London Zoo.

The fire ripped through the winter enclosure at the Woburn Safari Park for more than two hours and killed all of the Patas monkeys inside.

The building where the monkeys spend their nights in the cold winter months was virtually completely destroyed by the fire at the park in Bedfordshire.

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 park today confirmed it is investigating what caused the fire and the Jungle enclosure will be the only part which will remain closed.

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.

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.

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.

“An investigation is under way into the cause of the fire and whilst the park will remain open, the Jungle enclosure will remain closed for investigation.

“The park is grateful to the quick response from Bedfordshire Fire Brigade, who attended with three appliances.”

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.

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