Animal dies, buildings damaged in Metro Richmond Zoo fire

Posted at 11:16 PM, Jun 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-05 10:24:26-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- A meerkat housed in the animal hospital at the Metro Richmond Zoo died when that and several other "behind-the-scenes work areas of the zoo," caught fire Sunday night, according to zoo and fire officials.

"There were ten animals in the buildings that caught on fire," Metro Richmond Zoo director Jim Andelin said in a Monday morning statement. "Through heroic efforts of firefighters and zoo staff, nine were rescued and are being monitored closely."

The cause of the fire that damaged the animal hospital, feed storage room, and zookeeper service area remained under investigation.

Capt. J.A. Harvey, Deputy Fire Marshal for Chesterfield Fire and EMS, said a 911 call came in at 9:50 p.m. Sunday about a fire at the zoo on Beaver Bridge Road, about 20 miles southwest of the City of Richmond.

Metro Richmond Zoo Fire
Metro Richmond Zoo Fire

"Crews arrived on location to find several buildings on fire and began operating in a defensive posture due to the amount of fire involvement within the buildings," Harvey said.

Harvey also said one animal enclosure fence was damaged, but that all of those animals were accounted for and no other animals were in danger.

Metro Richmond Zoo Fire

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Andelin's statement indicated the fire began in the zoo’s workshop area and quickly spread.

"We are setting up temporary workspaces to maintain animal care and will rebuild the structures as soon as possible," the statement continued.

Andelin said the zoo planned to open to guests Monday morning.

"We are immensely grateful for the first responders who came to the zoo’s aid," he said. "Please keep our staff in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."

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