Giraffes, dogs, cats killed in NJ zoo fire

SPRINGFIELD TWP., N.J. - October 31, 2011

Between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. last night there was a Halloween event at Animal Kingdom on the 1800 block of Jacksonville-Jobstown Road in the Jobstown section of Springfield Township..

At 8:41 p.m. the fire was reported by a passerby.

Firefighters worked to save most of the animals that were inside the pet store, but couldn't save all.

"I know I lost a female giraffe and her baby. We lost two of our personal dogs, several cats, and a whole room full of exotic birds," owner Burton Sipp said.

Sipp told that the giraffes were locked inside the structure to keep them out of the chilly fall weather. When firefighters attempted to remove them last night, a wall fell on the mother, killing her on site.

The baby was transported to a nearby animal hospital but she didn't live through the night, Sipp said.

"It was just so freakish, just don't know how it could start that fast and everything, but it must have been some kind of an explosion that must have ignited it," George Sipp, Burton's brother, said.

Owner Burton Sipp was in Phoenix training horses when last night's fire started.

This was an ongoing nightmare for him.

In April his wife Bridget died when fire swept through their home also on the 38-acre site. She had gotten out, but went back in to save her mother not knowing that the woman was already out.

"Terrible, how would you feel? I built this zoo 35 years ago and it's been a foundation to the community and everybody knows us. Whether we rebuild it or not, if I don't get some financial help, there will be the end of Animal Kingdom," Burton Sipp said.

There were about 100 animals on the property. Today, animal experts rounded up the seven surviving giraffes for transport to Great Adventure.

Burton Sipp was also making arrangements to send some other animals to local zoos and he began selling puppies at cost or giving them away.

Roberta Puma bought the first one and named her Angel.

"Because of the fireman who saved her. It was an angel that saved her so Angel it is," Puma said.

State and Burlington County fire investigators are looking for the cause of last night's blaze that seems to have its origin in an area that was heated for the giraffes. As of now, officials say it doesn't appear to be suspicious.


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