Residents in the German city of Krefeld held a vigil in front of their local zoo to commemorate 30 animals killed in a blaze on New Year’s eve.
The fire burned down the zoo’s Great Ape House, killing monkeys and several primates such as chimpanzees, orangutans and two elderly gorillas.
Residents lit a sea of candles in front of the zoo on Wednesday night.
The Zoo director Wolfgang Dressen told local broadcaster WDR2 on Thursday that the zoo was focusing on caring for the remaining animals and dealing with their grief.
“The pain that is there is incredibly deep,’’ he said.
Dressen said he still wanted to continue in principle to keep apes at his zoo, but there were no plans yet for the future of the burnt-down ape house and breeding programme for the endangered animals.
The police suspect that the fire may have been caused by a Chinese lantern released into the air during New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Several such lanterns were found in the area. They are investigating on the grounds of negligent arson.
Krefeld Zoo welcomes about 400,000 visitors each year.
It counts elephants, leopards and rhinos among its star attractions, with a total of around 1,000 animals.(dpa/NAN)