A ZOO hit by a devastating fire which killed dozens of animals has been “overwhelmed” by well-wishers who have donated more than £23,000.
Five Sisters Zoo in Polbeth, West Lothian lost many animals including an otter, meerkats and snakes after the fire in the early hours of Sunday.
The plight of the zoo has so touched Scottish animals lovers they have been donating at the rate of £250 an hour since disaster struck.
The fire completely gutted the zoo’s tropical house and all the animals inside died and others were caught as the smoke and flames spread.
But staff are delighted to have received £23,400 for their fire fund from kind-hearted animal lovers, an average of almost £6,000 a day since the fire broke out, as well as hundreds of offers of support.
Owners Brian and Shirley Curran, who live on site, were woken at around 4am on Sunday to find the tropical house ablaze.
Firefighters battled for hours to try and stop the flames spreading, but the otter, crocodile and meerkat enclosures were all badly damaged.
Two West African dwarf crocodiles escaped by submerging in their pond while their hut burned down around them.
In total animals of 48 different species died in the fire, including all but two of the zoo’s meerkats.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated but officials are looking at whether a heating system in the house could have caused the blaze.
Lesley Coupar, of the zoo’s marketing department, said the donations had brought some comfort to the distraught Currans.
She said: “There’s a wee tiny glow inside them now. They’re taking great comfort at the help we’re getting but I don’t think they will ever really get over the shock of it.”
“It’s ordinary people giving what they can. We’re trying to sort through the hundreds and hundreds of messages from people from all walks of life offering their services.
“We’re taking calls all the time from people doing fundraising.
“A lot of schools in West Lothian are going to be doing a dressd own day for the schools to raise money.”
A statement from the zoo last night (wed) said: “Once again a HUGE thank you to everyone for their kinds words, donations and offers of help -totally amazing and overwhelmed by the kindness of so many people and especially the community spirit within West Lothian.
“The Fire Fund currently stands at a staggering £23,400.”
The money raised will go towards supporting the zoo, which is run on a non-profit basis, as it recovers from the fire.
They plan to rebuild the reptile house but it could be as long as a year before the attraction as ready again, Ms Coupar said.
Sheena Stevenson wrote on the zoo’s Facebook page: “Brilliant… I don’t have much but I will be making a small donation at the end of the week.
“Keep going folks… every little helps.”
Susie Alexander Fairweather posted: “My four-year-old son came home from nursery and so wanted to do something to help so we’re doing a charity car wash on Sunday.”
Earlier this week a glazier offered to rebuild the reptile house for free.
Derreck Findlay, owner of Bathgate-based 1st Choice Glazing, made the generous offer as his son Evan loved the zoo.
The zoo also showered praise on rescue crews who helped save animals from the blaze: “We cannot praise highly enough the support we received from the Fire Brigade, Police and other officials at the Zoo on Sunday.
“The quick response of the fire service contained the fire very quickly and allowed the rescue of the crocodiles, otter and two meerkats – all are recovering well thankfully.”