Devastating fire at Woburn safari park kills 13 monkeys


Young Patas Monkeys, Gambia / (Erythrocebus patas patas)

Some very unfortunate news to begin the year; thirteen patas monkeys have died in a fire at Woburn safari park in Bedfordshire. The blaze occurred in the patas monkey enclosure during the early hours of Tuesday morning, when all the monkeys were locked inside for the night. Security discovered the fire on a routine patrol, and alerted the Bedfordshire fire brigade, from which three appliances were sent to tackle the fire. The firefighters arrived just after 2.30am to find the monkey house ablaze with the roof having fallen in, and later commented that the building was 90% damaged by the fire.

The monkeys have 16 acres to roam around in the day but are all confined to their enclosure during the night. Their was concern about how the fire may have affected other animals near the enclosure, but have been monitored and are thought to be stable. The park will therefore remain open while the cause of the fire is investigated, but the initial view of the fire service was that it was caused by a faulty generator.

This incident, along with the London Zoo fire which took place only 10 days before, has raised general concerns around the ethics of keeping animals in captivity. A spokeswoman for the Captive Animals’ Protection Society commented; “You’re taking animals and putting them in an unnatural environment which risks their welfare. When a fire happens [in captivity] there’s nothing they can do.”

The London zoo fire also ended in loss of life for a number of animals, and has raised further questions about fire safety of organisations in this country, something which was at the forefront of many people’s minds during 2017.