Zoobrand: Minister sees co-responsibility with lantern sellers

Updated January 4, 2020, 10:38 pm

After the zoo fire in Krefeld and the death of over 30 animals, the investigation continues. As things stand, the fire was started by a sky lantern that three women had sent off. But are they really the only ones responsible?

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In the devastating fire in the Krefeld Zoo, the North Rhine-Westphalian Minister of the Environment Ursula Heinen-Esser sees a moral responsibility for the seller of the sky lantern, which probably caused the fire. “It is also important to ask why dangerous objects such as sky lights can be placed on the market with us so easily, although their use is prohibited,” said the CDU politician at the Rheinische Post (Saturday). She announced: “We will investigate this. It seems to me that the retail company that sold these sky lights is at least morally responsible.”

She rejects stricter animal protection requirements for zoos: “I have the impression that the zoos in North Rhine-Westphalia are very well managed,” said Heinen-Esser. “The employees are all animal lovers who work very hard for the animals and their welfare.”

Tropenhaus had no fire alarm

The zoo’s monkey house burned down on New Year’s Eve. More than 30 animals, including apes, were killed. Police and prosecutors assume that the fire was triggered by a sky lantern. Three women came forward and said that they had let the lantern – and four others – fly off. The lanterns are prohibited in Germany, but can be ordered online.

According to information from the “Rheinische Post”, the police also check the building law in the zoo. Among other things, the question is whether the plexiglass used was suitable as material for the roofing of the monkey house. The police also want to view the construction files. The fire had spread rapidly. The tropical house, built in 1975, did not have a fire alarm.

“Now you are finally free”

In front of the zoo, over 100 people took part in a vigil on Saturday. They carried posters with inscriptions such as “Now you are finally free”, “Burnt alive” and “They did not take care of you”.

From the point of view of Karlsruhe Zoo chief Matthias Reinschmidt, the fire is no reason to generally question the keeping of monkeys in zoos. “We see ourselves as conservation centers,” he told the German Press Agency. Especially for endangered species like orangutans you need every available space. A continuation of the breeding program in the zoos is crucial for the future of the great apes, Reinschmidt argued. Of the approximately one million orangutans on Earth, there are now only 50,000 left in the wild – also because more and more forests are being cut down. There are currently 1200 orangutans living in zoos. In his opinion, there should be more to ensure genetic diversity. “It is therefore out of the question to stop keeping apes in zoos,” said Reinschmidt.

In his opinion, animal parks should adapt their fire protection measures. New fire alarms, more inspection tours and a kind of security zone around zoos on New Year’s Eve are conceivable. (Dpa / sg)

A fire destroyed the monkey house in Krefeld Zoo on New Year’s Eve, and for many animals all help came too late. The cause of the fire could be sky lanterns, the police said at a press conference.

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