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Zookeepers keep red panda, tiger safe at home as fires threaten Australian park

Australia PM heckled on visit to fire-ravaged town
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was confronted by angry residents in Cobargo on Thursday as he toured New South Wales state amid the bushfire crisis.

Australia‘s Mogo Wildlife Park was caught in raging bush fires on Tuesday, putting the country’s largest collection of primates at risk.

From 6 a.m. that day, zookeepers worked to keep all 200 of the animals out of harm’s way, safely keeping most of the animals in a shelter on-site, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

A red panda, a tiger and other animals had to be kept at some of the keepers’ own homes in New South Wales, where the zoo is located, according to the BBC.

The zoo also houses monkeys, zebras, rhinos and giraffes.

READ MORE: Australian firefighters capture terrifying moment truck becomes engulfed by a wildfire

Though the area was under emergency evacuation because of the unpredictable fires, Mogo employees decided to stay behind to protect the animals.

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Chad Staples, the zoo’s director, described the scene as “apocalyptic,” telling the broadcaster it “felt like Armageddon.”

Sara Ang of the Mogo Wildlife Park told BBC Radio 5 that all the animals that had to be moved indoors were, while the others were kept safe outside.

“Some of the smaller monkeys had to be moved to the house, a red panda was in the house, there’s a tiger to the back … area behind the house,” she said.

Deaths, losses mounting in Australia’s disastrous bush fires
Deaths, losses mounting in Australia’s disastrous bush fires

“So with all of that as you can appreciate communication has been a little bit scant between Sydney where I am and the zoo, but from what we’ve gathered, the animals that needed to be moved indoors have been moved indoors and the others have been kept safe.”

READ MORE: Thousands flee, some restock in face of worsening Australian wildfires

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The Clyde Mountain fire devastated Mogo town, but the zoo grounds have been spared, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The Rural Fire Service was unable to step in to help with ember attacks threatening the park.

Carload of Koalas rescued from bushfires on Kangaroo Island
Carload of Koalas rescued from bushfires on Kangaroo Island

A spokesperson for Featherdale Wildlife, which owns the park, confirmed the danger has passed.

“Everybody is safe and all of the animals and our staff are well at this stage,” the spokesperson told the Australian publication.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

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