KEMEROVO, March 25. /TASS/. About 200 animals kept at a petting zoo in a shopping mall in Russia’s Siberian city of Kemerovo that caught fire on Sunday most likely have died of smoke intoxication, Yevgeny Videman, the zoo’s director, told TASS.
"I think they have died choking with smoke. I was the last to leave the premises. There were no humans in. Smoke on the third flood was heavy, people were leaving in panic. I simply closed the door: there was no physical possibility to save the animals. As a veterinarian, I think the animals have choked with smoke," he said, adding that he was receiving calls from people who offered their help. "But no one is let inside the building of the shopping mall, it is cordoned off. There was and there is no possibility to evacuate the animals," he said.
According to the zoo’s website, it kept genets, rabbits, guinea pigs, Cameroon dwarf goats, guinea fowls, African pygmy hedgehogs, long-eared hedgehogs, true tortoises, miniature pigs, polar foxes, meerkats, squirrels, foxes, hamsters, shell parakeets, and chinchillas.
According to earlier reports, three children and a woman died in the fire at the Zimnyaya Vishnya (Winter Cherry) shopping mall in central Kemerovo. Twenty people were saved from the burning building, and some 100 others were evacuated. The fire consumed an area of about 1,500 square meters.