DANBURY TOWNSHIP - Ten animals died in a barn fire Thanksgiving evening at the African Safari Wildlife Park, a longtime tourist attraction in northern Ohio.
Three giraffes, three red river hogs, three bongos and a springbok were killed in the blaze, safari park co-owner Holly Hunt said. Bongos are a large antelope species; a springbok is a medium-size antelope.
No staff members were injured in the blaze, according to the park's Facebook page.
"Our African Safari Wildlife Park team is devastated by the loss of animals housed in a barn destroyed by fire that was discovered early Thanksgiving evening," the park's Facebook post said. "We are grateful that our staff is safe and no one was injured, but the loss of the wildlife that we care for every day is tragic for our team members who love these animals."
The park will be closed Friday as staff mourn the loss of the wildlife, officials said.
Tawyna Becks/Port Clinton News Herald
The company said in its Facebook post that officials are still assessing the damage, but reported the fire occurred in a barn used for overnight care and security for the animals.
The cause of the fire has not been determined, the social media post said, but an investigation is underway.
Dispatchers from the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office told the News Herald on Thursday the fire was reported by citizens and that Danbury Township Fire Department, Port Clinton Fire Department and Catawba Fire provided mutual aid.
The park features more than 50 species of animals during the summer. It offers drive-through tours of the safari with animals such as giraffes, elk, camels and zebras, with walk-through tours and educational feedings of animals like porcupines, kangaroos, tortoises and gibbons.
In its 51st season, the safari park has rare creatures such as white bison and albino alligators.
An estimated 150,000 people visit the 100-acre park annually, making it one of the largest attractions in the area, according to park officials.
African Safari Wildlife Park had been planning special discount admission for Black Friday and was scheduled to close for the season on Sunday.
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