VIS­I­TORS EVAC­U­ATED FROM THE SITE AF­TER CHEM­I­CAL IN­CI­DENT

Belfast Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - BY CLAIRE WIL­LIAMSON

BELFAST Zoo evac­u­ated its vis­i­tors yes­ter­day as a safety pre­cau­tion fol­low­ing a chlo­rine gas leak.

The in­ci­dent hap­pened at the zoo’s fil­ter house just af­ter 3pm.

All pa­trons were es­corted from the site and the zoo closed early as the North­ern Ire­land Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice was called out to deal with the sit­u­a­tion.

Fire­fight­ers wear­ing breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus made the area safe.

Some of those who were evac­u­ated took to so­cial me­dia fol­low­ing their exit from the Cave Hill at­trac­tion.

A spokesman for the Fire Ser­vice told the Belfast Tele­graph that crews re­sponded to an “ac­ci­den­tal chlo­rine gas re­lease”.

He said: “On ar­rival the North­ern Ire­land Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice con­sulted with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Belfast Zoo, Belfast City Coun­cil and our own spe­cial­ists.

“We cor­doned off the area and evac­u­ated all peo­ple from the zoo and then com­mit­ted crews wear­ing breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus and gas-tight suits to ven­ti­late and take read­ings with a gas moni- tor to en­sure the area was made safe.

“The scene was then handed over to the man­ager from Belfast Zoo and ad­vice was given. “No in­juries were re­ported.” Yes­ter­day evening a spokesman for Belfast Zoo said that it ex­pected the premises to be open as nor­mal to­day.

He said: “We can con­firm that the Fire Ser­vice was called to Belfast Zoo on Fri­day af­ter­noon fol­low­ing an in­ci­dent at the zoo’s fil­ter house while a chem­i­cal treat­ment com­pany was on site.

“All vis­i­tors were es­corted safely from the site and the zoo closed early as a pre­cau­tion.

“We ex­pect the zoo to be open again as nor­mal on Satur­day.”

The 55-acre zoo opened in 1934 and is home to more than 1,000 an­i­mals and 150 species.

It most re­cently cel­e­brated the ar­rival of three crit­i­cally en­dan­gered igua­nas.

Be­fore that the zoo hailed the birth of five red squir­rel kit­tens as a ma­jor suc­cess for its ef­forts to con­serve the na­tive Ir­ish species.

The pop­u­la­tion has dra­mat­i­cally de­clined due to the loss of the tree-liv­ing ro­dent’s for­est habi­tats and com­pe­ti­tion from the non-na­tive grey squir­rel, which car­ries a lethal virus.

Belfast Zoo car­ries out con­ser­va­tion work both in North­ern Ire­land and around the world with col­lab­o­ra­tive breed­ing pro­grammes.

The Fire Ser­vice was called to Belfast Zoo yes­ter­day to deal with in­ci­dent

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