An early morning blaze at a traveling zoo here destroyed the entire facility, leaving some 300 animals dead, including endangered species.
According to Moriyama Station of the Shiga Prefectural Police, the fire broke out in a building housing animals at Horii Zoo at around 1:55 a.m. on Feb. 25.
By the time the fire was extinguished three hours later, the 620-square-meter facility was completely destroyed, and approximately 300 animals (around 100 species) were killed, including endangered Bengal tigers, baboons, kangaroos, and monkeys.
There were heat lamps inside the facility, and police are investigating the cause of the fire.
The director of the zoo, Yoshinori Horii, 47, said that while there was a deadbolt on the outside of the door to the building housing the animals, it was usually left unlocked. He also said there were no people left at the zoo after he left at 9 p.m. on Feb. 24.
Horii Zoo travels to kindergartens and various events around the country to put its animals on display. Horii began gathering animals around 1982, and says he kept a combined total of some 900 animals (200 to 300 species) at the site in Moriyama and another in the city of Yasu.
"It was all I could do to rescue a pony and two goats," Horii said dejectedly. "I'd always been careful about taking precautions against fire."
Last September, a kangaroo from Horii Zoo -- which is located in a residential area about a kilometer east of JR Moriyama Station -- escaped for four and a half hours.