| Scottish zoo fire leaves animals and reptiles dead|
|Reptiles, insects and an otter died after a fire broke out at a Scottish zoo in the early hours of Sunday.|
Around 50 firefighters tackled the blaze at the reptile house of Five Sisters Zoo in Polbeth, West Lothian, after the alarm was raised at about 4am. Lesley Coupar, from marketing and visitor services at the zoo, described the blaze as "the worst nightmare".
"We're in the business of rescuing animals, giving a safe haven to animals," she said. "To look now at the shell of the reptile house and everything gone from there, it's just the worst tragedy ever. The owners are obviously distraught, as are we all. We're all animal lovers."
By Sunday afternoon the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said it had scaled back resources – 11 fire engines, including specialist appliances, were involved in the operation at one point – but small pockets of fire remained. Firefighters helped to rescue two dwarf crocodiles and an otter.
The fire service said: "The tropical house where the fire broke out was well alight when crews arrived on scene. High winds made firefighting conditions more difficult but crews successfully battled to prevent the fire from spreading to neighbouring animal enclosures.
"Fortunately the fire is now predominantly out and firefighters are checking to ensure no fire spread and help zoo staff on site to assess the damage."
An investigation into the cause of the fire will be launched. Full details of the animals affected will not be available until it is safe for zoo staff to access affected areas. Apart from the otter, the animals that died were in the reptile house.
The zoo's website was struggling to cope with high demand as news of the fire spread. Instead visitors were directed to a message thanking people for their support and giving details of where they could donate to a fund to help the zoo.