Aardvark killed, meerkats missing as fire shuts London Zoo

Some staff treated for smoke inhalation, shock

LONDON (CNN) - An aardvark has died and four meerkats are missing after a blaze broke out Saturday morning at ZSL London Zoo, forcing its closure, the zoo said.

A number of zoo staff has been treated for smoke inhalation and shock, the zoo said in a statement posted to its website.

The zoo -- an iconic London attraction located in Regent's Park -- has been closed to visitors until further notice.

The aardvark that died was identified as a female named Misha. According to the zoo's website, the termite-loving creature was about 10 years old. Aardvarks originate in sub-Saharan Africa and are nocturnal.

The fire broke out at about 6 a.m. in the Animal Adventure section of the zoo, designed for children, and spread to a nearby shop, the zoo said.

Zoo staff members were at the scene within minutes, and the fire was brought under control with firefighters' help about three hours later.

The staff is "in the process of assessing the situation in difficult conditions," the statement said. "We are immensely grateful to the fire brigade, who reacted quickly to the situation to bring the fire under control."

Staff will work with fire investigators to determine the cause of the blaze, it said.

London Fire Brigade said it had sent 10 fire engines and more than 70 firefighters to the zoo after the alarm was raised. It said the fire affected part of an animal petting area as well as a shop and cafe.


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