Ten fire engines and 72 firefighters and officers were called to a fire at a café and shop at London Zoo this morning.
The adventure café and shop were destroyed by the blaze, along with around half of an adjacent petting zoo.
Station Manager David George who is attending the incident said: "The fire mainly involved the café and shop but part of a nearby animal petting area was also affected."
"When they arrived our crews were faced with a very well developed fire. They worked incredibly hard in arduous conditions to bring it under control as quickly as possible and to stop it from spreading to neighbouring animal enclosures."
Crews remained at the scene throughout the morning damping down remaining pockets of fire.
Sadly London Zoo confirmed that a much loved arrdvark called Misha died in the fire. Four meerkats are also missing, and are now presumed to have died.
During the incident one firefighter suffered a minor wrist injury and was taken to hospital as a precaution. Five others were also assessed on the scene by London Ambulance Service but remained on duty. A number of Zoo staff were also treated.
The Brigade was called at 0608 and the fire was under control by 0916. Fire crews from Kentish Town, Paddington, Euston, West Hampstead and other surrounding fire stations were at the scene.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
London Zoo statement
"ZSL London Zoo can confirm that at approximately 6am on Saturday 23 December a fire broke out in the Animal Adventure section of the Zoo, and spread to an adjacent shop.
"Duty staff that live on site at the zoo were on the scene immediately, and started moving animals to safety.
"The London Fire Brigade were on the scene within minutes and the fire was brought under control by 9:16am.
"A number of zoo staff have been treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and shock.
"Our staff are now in the process of assessing the situation in difficult conditions. At present one aardvark is currently unaccounted for.
"We are immensely grateful to the fire brigade, who reacted quickly to the situation to bring the fire under control.
"We will work closely with fire investigators to determine the cause of the incident."