Team members at African Safari Wildlife Park are continuing the work of caring for the park’s 400 animals while taking on the difficult task of recovering from the devastating Thanksgiving night barn fire, in which 10 animals, including three giraffes, perished.
“This team has been unbelievable and has rallied to support each other and care for the animals here at the Wildlife Park despite feeling heartbroken over the loss of animals they loved,” said Holly Hunt, co-owner of African Safari Wildlife Park. “Even though they’ve been through so much, their spirits are lifted by the overwhelming show of support of the community. We are so appreciative of the thousands who have reached out with messages of care and support.”
The Park invited in a grief counselor to assist staff members deeply affected by the loss of the 10 animals that were staying in the barn for shelter and warmth. “Our team works like a family, and the animals are part of that family, so in times like this, we need to support each other,” Hunt said.
Cause of the fire is still under review by fire marshal officials. The barn was destroyed by the blaze discovered after 6:15 p.m. on Thanksgiving night by Wildlife Park staff, who reside on the grounds.
Quick action by staff members and the emergency first responders, including local fire departments and law-enforcement agencies, helped prevent any further damage to nearby buildings and prevented injury to other animals nearby. As part of the rescue, a zebra and two giraffes were released into the secured park from a nearby barn in order to help protect them in case the fire spread. The animals were brought back indoors that night under veterinary care, and they are all doing well.
The Wildlife Park continues to receive an outpouring of messages and well wishes from the community, visitors and public, including some expressing interest in contributing to a memorial fund for the lost animals. African Safari Wildlife Park has designated all donations to its Guardian of Wildlife Fund will be directed to the nonprofit Giraffe Conservation Foundation. Headquartered in Cleveland, it is the only NGO in the world concentrating on the conservation and management of giraffe living throughout Africa. (giraffeconservation.org) Giraffe are now listed as an endangered species due to their declining wild populations.
“We are deeply committed to saving wildlife and have contributed to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation previously because we know they put donations to good work helping giraffe in Africa. We want good for wildlife to come from this tragedy,” said Hunt. “We love providing our visitors the chance to see, experience, and be inspired by wildlife — like amazing giraffe — so they come to love these animals just as we do.