Video Credit: CEN/@zookrefeld
Keepers at a German zoo hit by a fire over New Year say the only two chimpanzees to survive are recovering by supporting each other to form a new family.
The male chimpanzee Limbo and the female Bally who survived with only minor injuries have once again started showing signs of putting the tragic blaze behind them which included playing and communicating with each other.
The zoo, which is located in Krefeld, in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, said that in the short-term they were hoping to continue the rehabilitation of the pair and that long-term, the plan was to eventually moving to another zoo where they could join another chimpanzee family.
They said it was very important for chimpanzees to be part of a larger social group, and that it was unrealistic to consider that happening where they were now because it would take years for the chimpanzee family at Krefeld to be rebuilt.
Zoo officials have confirmed they plan to rebuild the destroyed tropical monkey house, although Mayor Frank Meyer has several times repeated that they are determined to replace it, and that after its implementation, the monkey house in the zoo will be “more beautiful, more modern and more species-appropriate than ever before”.
Staff said particularly good news was the fact that Limbo who is now the dominant male for Bally had been showing off which was a good sign that he was over the worst of it and had started to put the tragedy behind him.
The blaze was reportedly started by a mother and her two adult daughters who had purchased the sky lanterns made of paper in which a light is placed inside in order to launch it into the sky to make a wish. The three have apologised and said they did not realise that the devices were banned in Germany.
The fire which broke out on 31st December destroyed the over 2,000 square metres (21,500 square feet) tropical ape house containing rare Bornean orangutans, chimpanzees and marmosets with only the two chimpanzees and a seven strong family of gorillas surviving because they were in the neighbouring gorilla garden at the time.
Firefighters managed to save the gorilla enclosure before the blaze can spread further. The other animals that died including birds and fruit bats that lived in the rainforest environment that the enclosure replicated.
The women were not named but were believed to be between 30 and 60 years old according to Chief Prosecutor Axel Stahl who confirmed that so far nothing had come to light that indicated any other cause of the blaze other than the sky lantern.
The two women have reportedly apologised and readily came forward when it was revealed that a sky lantern was a probable cause of the fire, but if they are prosecuted on charges of arson through negligence, they could face anything from a fine through to up to five years in jail.
But prosecutors are also looking for answers as to how the acrylic roof managed to catch fire so quickly which was installed in 2008 after hail damage smashed the previous glass system. There are also questions raised as to why there was no sprinkler system or smoke alarm.
A handwriting expert confirmed that a handwritten wish found alongside the lantern matched the handwriting sample provided by the women.
The investigation continues.
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