Krefeld zoo fire: three women hand themselves in to German police

Krefeld zoo fire: three women hand themselves in to German police

Three women have turned themselves into the German police after they learned that sky lanterns are believed to be the cause of the tragic blaze at Krefeld Zoo on New Year’s Eve, which killed over 30 animals.

Three women investigated over German zoo fire

A 60-year-old woman and her two adult daughters are currently being investigated for setting off flying lanterns on December 31. The head of Krefeld criminal police, Gerd Hoppmann, said at a press conference that the women turned themselves in after hearing about the fire on the local radio. 

They “seemed like sensible and responsible people,'' he said, and had shown courage by coming forward. They are now being investigated for negligent arson, a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. 

Flying lanterns have been banned in Germany for the past 10 years, but the women were apparently unaware of this when they bought theirs on the internet. 

Fire at Krefeld Zoo on New Year’s Eve killed 30 animals

The blaze was responsible for the deaths of 30 primates - including gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and marmosets - housed in the monkey enclosure at Krefeld Zoo in North Rhine-Westphalia. Just two chimpanzees - named Billy and Limbo - miraculously survived the blaze, sustaining only light injuries. 

Investigators believe the fire started shortly before midnight on New Year’s Eve when one of the illegal flying lanterns landed on the roof of the monkey enclosure. So far, four of the lanterns have been accounted for but the one believed to be responsible for the fire is still missing. 

The case has intensified the ongoing debate over the use of fireworks in Germany at New Year, the only time of the year that private use is permitted. Starting off the year with a bang is a long-standing New Year’s Eve tradition in Germany, but has come under increasingly heavy scrutiny in recent years from both environmental and animal rights perspectives. 

Thumb: Zoo Krefeld / Facebook



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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