10 animals were killed in fire at African Safari Wildlife Park in Ohio


A giraffe flees the flames.

Data pix.

OTTAWA COUNTY, OHIO -- The cause of a fire that killed 10 animals Thursday at the African Safari Wildlife Park in northern Ohio has not yet been determined, officials say.

Three giraffes, three red river hogs, three bongos (large forest antelope) and a springbok (a gazelle-like antelope) were inside a barn that was destroyed by the blaze, said the Danbury Township Police.

The 300 other animals in the park have been accounted for, said park co-owner, Holly Hunt.

The building was destroyed, and officials have not determined where the fire started, said Frank Reitmeier, an investigator for the State of Ohio Fire Marshal's Office, during a press conference Friday afternoon.

The investigation could take several weeks, Reitmeier said.

Reitmeier said investigators do not believe the fire was a crime. They are looking into reports that a power outage occurred in the area beforehand, Reitmeier said.

Veterinarians are monitoring some animals due to the stress they experienced during the blaze, Hunt said.

Through tears, Hunt said she was "devastated" by the loss of so many animals and that grief counselors were on site to help staff members. She said that every zoo in Ohio and several from around the country has reached out to support the park.

The park was scheduled to close for the season on Sunday.

The barn where the fire occurred was heated but did not have a fire suppression system and was built in the 1980s, Hunt said.

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