CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — After a fire destroyed two zoo buildings and killed one animal on Sunday night, the Richmond Metro Zoo is preparing for what’s next.
Around 10 p.m. on Sunday, June 4, Chesterfield Fire and EMS responded to the Richmond Metro Zoo for a reported fire. According to zoo officials, the fire began in the zoo’s workshop area and spread to the animal hospital, feed storage room and the zookeeper service area. Two buildings were destroyed and the the kangaroo enclosure fence was also damaged.
Firefighters and zoo staff were able to rescue nine animals, but a meerkat that was being treated at the animal hospital died.
The zoo is still in the early stages of assessing damage. The two buildings that served as “home base centers” for veterinary care and maintenance will have to be demolished and rebuilt. Most of the zoo’s animal feed, prepared animal diets, veterinary equipment and maintenance equipment is now gone.
Six golf carts, personal staff belongings and production equipment for the Miracle of Christmas nativity pageant were also all destroyed.
For now, the zoo is remaining open and continue to operate as normally as possible. Temporary food prep has been set up in one of the zoo’s barns and feed suppliers are sending out shipments so the zoo’s animals can continue to eat their regular diets. Local vet clinics are also offering to help the zoo by providing veterinary equipment, and zoos across the country are sending both well wishes and supplies.
“Since the fire Sunday night, the zoo has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from the community,” Jim Andelin, the zoo’s director, said in a statement. “You are the light in a devastating situation. Thank you.”
If you are interested in supporting the zoo as they rebuild, there are a few ways you can help. You can donate directly through the online store or by buying items from the zoo’s Amazon wish list. You can also fill out a volunteer form if you are willing to help clean up at the zoo. Volunteers will be contacted as needed.
Guests are also welcome to support the zoo by simply coming to visit and enjoying the exhibits, which are all fully open.
The fire marshal is continuing to conduct an investigation into the cause of the fire. Currently, they believe it began at the end of the maintenance building and it was an accident involving some form of electrical trouble.