14 December 2018

South Africa: 'It Was Seriously Bad' - Fire Rips Through Monkey Town in Somerset West

Staff at the Monkey Town Primate Centre in Somerset West are picking up the pieces after a late-night fire destroyed some infrastructure, one of the managers said on Friday.

"The most important thing is that the animals are fine," said Yvette Botha.

She said their restaurant had burnt down completely and that some animal enclosures had been destroyed.

"We still do not have an idea what caused the fire. It started outside the restaurant building around 22:45. Everybody was in bed already," said Botha.

Staff living on the premises heard the alarm going off.

"Someone else was screaming from the road. It was seriously bad."

City of Cape Town fire and rescue spokesperson Edward Bosch said that, when firefighters arrived before 23:00, the main restaurant building was well alight.

A total of 21 firefighters, three fire engines, two water tankers and a rescue vehicle were dispatched.

Botha said she and the staff did what they could to keep their charges safe.

The centre is home to more than 250 monkeys and some 400 other animals.

"We just stood in different places to make sure the sparks don't go from one place to another place. The baboons are very clever and went very high up in the trees."

The centre has already received support, with one woman offering to raise money to rebuild the baboon enclosure.

Anyone who would like to help can contact the centre on pro@monkeys.co.za.

Bosch said the cause of the fire was being investigated.


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