Fire Sunday night destroyed a barn and killed two giraffes at the Timbavati Wildlife Park in Wisconsin Dells.
The Kilbourn Fire Department was dispatched to the fire along Wisconsin Dells Parkway at 5:57 p.m. Sunday.
Fire Chief Scott Walsh said nothing was left of the barn that housed the two giraffes, which were 4 years old. The animals had been shut in the barn, he said, and no one was there when the fire started to open doors to get them out.
Four trucks and 19 firefighters went to the scene. The Delton Fire Department also responded to the fire.
Walsh said the fire was not suspicious in origin but is under investigation by Wisconsin Dells Police.
Walsh said Kilbourn Fire Captain Todd Swansby said no other animals were in the barn and no other animals at the wildlife park were injured. No other buildings on the property were damaged.
The park’s owner, Mark Schoebel, said he and other employees that care for the animals were upset at the unexpected fire and deaths of the giraffes.
“It’s difficult to go through it,” he said.
Before the park can obtain new giraffes, a new barn will have to built.
“Giraffes are a signature animal for us, and we will be looking for giraffes to replace them. It’s a little bit early yet. We don’t know exactly yet how we’re going to handle it all, but you know they were great animals. It’s a horrible thing to lose,” he said.
Schoebel has had giraffes for 24 years, although Timbavati Wildlife Park opened in its new location about two years ago.
“It’s kind of hard not to be impressed with the giraffes. Everybody who comes and sees the giraffes love them,” he said. “The giraffes are a part of our operation, and we really love them. It’s a setback for us, but we’ll get through it.”
He doesn’t know the cost of the damage, yet, but said he has insurance on the building that was lost.
In 2012, the park opened for four months, according to Schoebel. The park should open as scheduled by May 1 with a new barn, he said.