Chinese sky lanterns kill most monkeys at Krefeld Zoo in Germany

A German zoo has confirmed the death of all its monkey’s after a fire destroyed an enclosure. The Krefeld Zoo reported two chimpanzees survived.

The 6,500 sq ft enclosure housed rare Bornean orangutans, chimpanzees and marmosets.

Police say the fire may have been caused by Chinese or “sky” lanterns used to celebrate New Year.

“People reported seeing those sky lanterns flying at low altitude near the zoo and then it started burning,” said Gerd Hoppmann, the city’s head of criminal police.

He said investigators had also found used lanterns near the burnt down enclosure.

Known as a fire hazard, sky lanterns are banned in Germany.

The monkey house at Krefeld Zoo was built in 1975 and recreated a tropical climate for rainforest inhabitants, which included fruit bats and free-flying birds, as well as primates.

Krefeld Zoo said it was a “miracle” that two chimpanzees, Bally and Limbo, survived the fire. They are slightly injured but being looked after by vets.

The zoo thanked people for their “overwhelming wave of compassion”.

“We ask for your understanding that we cannot be there for you today,” it said regarding its decision to close on New Year’s Day.