The Monsoon Forest exhibit at Chester Zoo in northern England has been severely damaged in s fire that broke out at about 11.30 am local time on Saturday 15m December 2018. All visitors were evacuated safely from the building, as were all of the Mammals housed there, including Sumatran Orangutans, Pongo abelii, Sulawesi Macaques, Macaca nigra, and Silvery Gibbons, Hylobates moloch, as well as larger Birds such as Rhinoceros Hornbills, Buceros rhinoceros, but many smaller animals are now known to have perished, including Question Mark Cockroaches, Therea olegrandjeani, Amano Shrimps, Caridina multidentata, Hendra Tommy's Fighting Fish, Betta hendra, Cinnamon Frogs, Nyctixalus pictus, Tentacled Snakes, Erpeton tentaculatum, and birds such as Grosbeak Starlings, Scissirostrum dubium. One member of the Zoo's staff was treated for smoke inhalation following the incident.
Chester Zoo opened in 1931 with an ambitious plan to show animals in cage-less environments (most of the exhibits were originally on islands, and is the UK's most visited Zoo, receiving over 1.4 million visitors a year. It has been described as the best zoo in the UK and the third best in the world by TripAdvisor. The Monsoon Forest opened in 2015, and covered an area of 60 000 m², making it the UK's largest zoo building (plans for an even larger Heart of Africa Bio-dome were shelved in 2011 when a change of government in the UK led to the abolition of the North West Regional Development Agency). The exhibit was designed to mimic the conditions of a Southeast Asian rainforest, with an internal climate, rainfall and a temperature of 26.6°C.
The Monsoon Forest in 2016. Chester Zoo.
Chester Zoo is involved in conservation work, and hosts captive breeding programs for a number of endangered species, including Eastern Black Rhinoceros, Diceros bicornis michaeli, Tequila Splitfin, Zoogoneticus tequila, Ameca Shiner, Notropis amecae, Javan Green Magpie, Cissa thalassina, and Black Winged Starling, Acridotheres melanopterus, as well as supporting education and habitat-protection campaigns around the world.
Inside the structure that hosted the Monsoon Forest after the fire. Chester Fire and Rescue Service.
The zoo was able to re-open the day after the fire, but faces major problems rehousing the animals rescued from the fire, and rebuilding the exhibit, which it is estimated will cost about £40 million. A JustGiving page set up in the aftermath of the fire raised over £100 000 within 24 hours, and has now raised over £135 000, though it has now been confirmed that the zoo's insurer's will cover the cost of the rebuild and the zoo has announced the money will be spent on its conservation work. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.
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