The staff at Hollywild Animal Park is mapping out its future in the wake of a barn fire that killed 27 animals.
The park's board of directors planned to hold a private meeting Monday night to discuss the fire and determine the future direction of the park, according to a statement from Kim Atchley, the park's spokeswoman.
Atchley said the board and staff would continue an internal review "in light of their dedication to support the Hollywild mission to provide an interactive and enlightening experience for our visitors, as we continually improve the lives of our animals in an enriching and respectful environment."
Hollywild houses about 500 animals in a 100-acre park that opens to the public in Wellford. It became a nonprofit in 1999.Forty animals were housed in the primate barn when it caught fire overnight Jan. 9. A malfunctioning overhead light sparked and caught a portion of the metal barn on fire, said Holly Springs Fire Department Chief Brent Blackwell. The fire put itself out, Blackwell said, but not before the barn filled with smoke and more than two dozen animals died.
Twenty-seven animals — two capuchins, four chimpanzees, two baboons, seven lemurs, two mangabeys, one bear cub, one African crowned crane, three tortoises, four wolf hybrid puppies and one barn cat — died of smoke inhalation. None were burned, the park staff has said.
The 13 survivors recovering from smoke-related injuries are five tortoises, one wallaroo, two baboons, one dog, two wolf hybrid puppies and two year-old bear cubs.
Animals are no longer being housed inside the primate barn.
"Those that require heat during this time of year have been moved to other buildings on property that can meet their specific needs," Atchley said. "The animals receiving off-site veterinary care have recovered sufficiently to return home and did so today to great joy from all the staff."
After the fire, Hollywild miscalculated the number of lemurs inside the barn, resulting in the incorrect reporting — and apparent fluctuation — of the total number of dead animals, Atchley said.
The maintenance staff has updated the lighting and accompanying electrical wiring to the barn since the fire, she said.
The park's animals are overseen by 10 to 15 personnel directly responsible for animal care.
Many park patrons and community members voiced sadness and disappointment about the loss of so many animals from the fire.PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has called upon federal authorities to revoke Hollywild's licenses and shut the park down as a result of the fire. The group also sent a letter Monday to the park's Executive Director David Meeks to ask for the surviving primates to be retired to a reputable sanctuary, said David Perle, a PETA spokesman.
"At a sanctuary, the animals would receive the rehabilitation needed to recover from the trauma of likely witnessing other animals die around them in the fire," he said. "The highly social primates would also have the opportunity to interact with others of their kind and likely be integrated into a new social group, which is essential for their well-being."