Our Planet
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Don't let good zoos go extinct
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About 50 firefighters have been tackling an early-morning blaze at a zoo in Scotland.

The fire broke out in the Five Sisters zoo at Polbeth, West Calder, West Lothian, at about 3.50am, the fire service said. The blaze has been confined to the tropical house.

The zoo is preparing an inventory of any animals not accounted for, a Scottish fire and rescue service spokeswoman said. No people are thought to have been injured in the blaze.

A total of 11 fire engines, including specialist appliances, were involved in the operation. Some crews remained at the scene on Sunday morning.

The privately owned zoo was established in 2005, according to its website, which describes it as the "top wildlife, animal and exotics attraction in West Lothian".

The non-profit making organisation is said to have more than 130 species of animals, including birds and reptiles, from around the world.

Lesley Coupar, head of marketing and visitor services at the zoo, described the blaze as "the worst nightmare". She confirmed that animals in the reptile house, and an otter housed elsewhere, had died.

"We are devastated," she said. "We're in the business of rescuing animals, giving a safe haven to animals. 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."

Describing how events unfolded, she said: "The alarm went off around 4am. The owners, who live on site, woke up to this and came down to see the reptile house ablaze."

Referring to the reptile house, she added: "Everything has gone from in there. Everything has died a range of reptiles and insects."

Coupar said the dwarf west African crocodiles living behind the reptile house had been saved. But she added: "One of our beloved otters was found dead. The otters are a huge, popular attraction at the zoo. So many people love them. Sadly the male has gone. The female is being looked after by the vet just now."

Officials are said to be working to establish the impact of the blaze on the meerkat house.
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