A POPULAR petting zoo is recovering and making positive changes after a “devastating year” which saw a fire kill about 150 of its animals.

The blaze broke out at Maldon Promenade Petting Zoo’s private farm in the Dengie Peninsula on July 5.

Zoo directors James and Craig Williams were overwhelmed by the support from the community.

Craig said: “The outpouring of support we’ve had – we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the local community, the council and all our lovely supporters, and first and foremost our lovely staff who have worked through a horrific time.”

He added: “Thanks to the fire service, they saved so many animals, obviously we did lose an enormous amount of animals. We have around 500 animals and sadly in that fire we lost around 150.

“We probably lost around 60 mammals, birds and reptiles but nonetheless we count everything as a life.”

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The fire was down to a “freak accident” and the insurance received has helped the zoo rebuild and remember the lives lost.

A plaque and remembrance bench have both been installed in the park as a tribute to the animals.

The business does a lot of community work but have ramped it up since the tragic incident, working with schools and colleges across Essex.

It also gave all of its staff, some of its customers, and friends of the business counselling support.

Now it has exciting plans for its visitors.

The zoo has also taken in a new honey bear called Mowgli – a brother of one of the honey bears who died in the fire.

They are finishing his enclosure at the park so visitors can look forward to seeing him soon.

“The start of summer was shockingly sad but we’ve upped our game and we’ve done it in remembrance of our lovely animals we lost,” said Craig.

The Maldon Promenade Petting Zoo is intending to apply for a zoo licence to Maldon District Council.

To see a copy of the full Notice of Intention contact Maldon District Council Offices, Princes Road, Maldon, Essex, CM9 5DL.

Or see a copy at the zoo located at Maldon Promenade Park, Park Drive, Maldon, Essex, CM9 5JQ.

James said: "Please support our zoo, the zoo is already established and over 80 per cent of our animals are rescues.  

"We need to apply for our zoo licence due to four of our animals requiring this to continue being kept."

The petting zoo also has Halloween and Christmas events coming up - and will be selling real Christmas trees.

For more information visit jandcpartypets.com.