PORT CLINTON, Ohio — Ten animals, including three giraffes, are dead after a Thanksgiving fire at an Ohio wildlife park.
Holly Hunt, the owner of African Safari Wildlife Park in Port Clinton, in Ottawa County along Lake Erie, said three bongos, three giraffes, three red river hogs and a springbok were killed in the fire in a barn used for overnight care and security. Bongos and springboks are species of antelope.
The park remains closed Friday.
“We are devastated by this loss. These are animals we cared for everyday and our team is just devastated. We appreciate the support of the community and the first responders to help us save what we can,” said Holly Hunt, a co-owner of the park.
“Recovery is beginning from this devastating event. Our team members are here caring for each other and the animals,” Hunt continued. “Our community has been incredibly supportive in reaching out to us. This fire killed 10 animals. The staff today are working to care for the animals frightened by the fire and are caring for each other.”
Officials released information about the animals lost in the fire at a press conference Friday afternoon. Among the 10 that were killed: Waylon, a 3-year-old giraffe; Quinn, a 1 1/2-year-old giraffe who was a resident of the park since June 2019; and Beltre, a 2 1/2-year-old giraffe who arrived just this week.
The wildlife park is on 100 acres and was closed for Thanksgiving when the fire took place.
“It’s just gut-wrenching that this should happen,” Hunt said. “Our team works so hard every day to care for these animals.”
No staff or firefighters were injured and they were able to save a zebra out of the barn.
Several fire departments remained on the scene late into Thursday evening, and investigators from the state fire marshal’s office arrived Friday morning.
Officials say they have yet to determine the cause or precise origin of the fire. However, nothing at this time suggests a criminal act; it could be an accidental fire or the result of a natural disaster or weather.
Due to the devastation of the fire and the building’s total collapse, fire officials said it could take weeks to complete their investigation.
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