Zoo Staff Stay Behind To Save Animals From Dying In Bushfire

by : Lucy Connolly on : 08 Jan 2020 17:15
Zoo Staff Stay Behind To Save Animals From Dying In Bushfiremogowildlife/Twitter

The director of an Australian zoo who stayed behind with his staff to save his animals from dying when bushfires tore through the area said he never once considered abandoning them.

Chad Staples, the director of Mogo Zoo on the south coast of New South Wales, described the scenes on New Year’s Eve as ‘apocalyptic’ after a fire destroyed much of the 170-year-old town of Mogo.


Rather than fleeing as the fire rapidly approached the 65-acre zoo, Staples and his team stayed behind to protect the 200+ animals residing there, including lions, giraffes, monkeys, red pandas and rhinos.

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He and 15 other staff members made a plan to keep the flames at bay and protect the animals, including moving some of them into their own living quarters. ‘There’s no way we would leave the animals behind. These are family – not things,’ Staples said.


The team doused the grounds with hundreds of thousands of litres of water as the fire approached, moving quickly as winds changed. As the fire jumped over a stream that ran around the grounds, trees collapsed close to the animal enclosures.

Thanks to their efforts, none of the animals died – despite the fact firefighters were unable to help them. A local fire service official stopped by and told Staples and his team that nobody would be able to come and rescue them.

Staples said as per Reuters:

They were busting a gut to save everyone else. I’ve never felt heat like that or seen fires that look like that and I never want to see that again.


Once the fire had subsided slightly, the zoo arranged police escorts to get trucks through roadblocks to make urgent deliveries of hay, vegetables and water to keep the animals alive.

The survival of the zoo’s animals was among the few positive stories to come out of the devastating bushfires, which have taken the lives of at least 26 people and a billion animals since they began in September.

In New South Wales alone, 1,588 homes have been destroyed and a further 653 damaged by the fires, which have scorched through more than 10.3 million hectares (25.5 million acres) of land.

Nearly 200 People Arrested In Australia For Deliberately Lighting BushfiresPA Images

Our thoughts are with all those affected by these devastating fires.

You can donate to the Australian Red Cross here. Alternatively, you can donate to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service here, or the Queensland Fire Service here.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Animals, Australia, Australian Bushfires, Bushfires, Climate Change, zoo


A Current Affair/YouTube and 1 other
  1. A Current Affair/YouTube

    Australia fires: Zoo animals in path of fire saved by brave staff | A Current Affair

  2. Reuters

    Brave as lions: Zoo heroics save animals from Australia's raging fires