A fire at London Zoo claimed the life of one animal and left zoo keepers and security staff "very shaken and devastated".

The nine-year-old aardvark Misha died despite efforts by zoo staff to move all animals to safety after a fire broke out at the adventure cafe at around 6am on Saturday (December 23), according to ZSL London Zoo.

Four missing meerkats are also presumed to be dead, the zoo said.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) sent 72 firefighters and ten appliances to tackle the blaze that tore through the zoo's shop and cafe at around 6.10am and brought the fire under control at around 9.15am.

Half of the adjacent animal petting enclosure was also destroyed, an LFB spokesman said.

Keepers and security staff living on site, who rushed to help nearby animals, were treated for smoke inhalation and shock at the scene.

"They were very shaken and devastated but they are okay now," a spokesman for London Zoo said.

A firefighter suffered a "minor" wrist injury and was taken to hospital as a precaution.

"Five others were also assessed on the scene by London Ambulance Service but remained on duty," an LFB spokesman said.

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It was "too soon to speculate on the cause", a spokesman for the zoo said, but "we will be working very closely with fire investigators over the coming days and weeks".

London Zoo will open to the public from 10 am on Sunday (December 24).

"After consultation with fire experts attending today, we are confident that we can safely open the zoo tomorrow," the spokesman said.

The zoo's vets continue to monitor animals which were near the fire.

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