The cause of a devastating fire, which killed several animals, has been revealed.

The blaze broke out at about 1.15am on Monday (July 5) at a farm on the Dengie Peninsula used by Maldon Promenade Petting Zoo to house some of its animals.

Crews from Maldon, Burnham and Tillingham found a barn measuring 20 metres by 30 metres was completely alight.

It took until 12.15pm to put out the fire.

A brigade spokesman said: “Sadly, a number of animals died at the incident.”

The zoo said it had suffered “numerous losses”, including cockatoos, macaws, parrots, meerkats, armadillos, and skunks.

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The zoo has since confirmed that the fire was probably caused by an electrical fault in a freezer and quickly spread through the farm.

It said: “We will never forget the beautiful animals that we have lost in such tragic circumstances. Some of the little guys kept at our private farm were retired, resting or previous unwanted pets that we tried so hard to care for.

“We take every precaution to prevent fire/accidents happening. Our appliances are regularly pat tested, we have a certified electrician on hand for any problems, regularly have health and safety audits from our own but also external consultants, and fire risk assessments are regularly carried out.

“We also received guidance from the fire service two years ago to try and prevent accidental fire. With all this said, we still couldn’t prevent an electrical freezer fire but we will do all we can to learn from what has occurred.

“A heart-felt apology to our beautiful animals lost, staff, family and of course customers who have all felt this loss.”

A fundraising drive has been launched to raise £2,000 to help the zoo continue its work.

In just two days generous donors have raised more than £1,000.

To donate, search for J&C Petting Zoo on