Giraffe and Calf Crushed When Wall Collapses in Zoo Fire

Zoo owner's wife died in a fire at the zoo in April.

ByABC News
October 31, 2011, 1:28 PM

Oct. 31, 2011— -- A giraffe and her calf were crushed to death when a wall collapsed on them as firefighters tried to get them out of a locked building of a private zoo.

Burton Sipp, the owner of Bridget's Animal Kingdom in Bordentown, N.J., said he was devastated by the fire. Sipp said he lost his wife Bridget in a fire at the same site in April.

"It's terrible. It's the worst nightmare for someone to have. It's like part of a family, these animals," Sipp said told

The fire started in the rear of the property at 8:41 p.m. on Sunday and was "under control" by 11:51 p.m., an official from Bordentown's 911 central communications said. Earlier that evening Bridget's Animal Kingdom had hosted a Halloween event.

The giraffes were locked inside the structure to keep them out of the chilly fall weather, Sipp said. 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.

Giraffe and Her Calf Die in Zoo Fire

In addition to the giraffes, a room full of exotic birds, and two household dogs also died.

Several giraffes that survived the fire will be taken to Great Adventure Park in Jackson, N.J., for the winter. Sipp said several zoos have offered to temporarily house the other animals, but he and his staff are still coordinating the specifics.

There were no human victims trapped in the flames. The police department has yet to release information about the cause of the fire.

Sipp fears he may have to close Bridget's Animal Kingdom. The building was underinsured and the repairs will be expensive, he said.

"Right now I'm going to have to say that if I don't get some financial help, it'll be the end of animal kingdom zoo," Sipp said.

Sipp, 67, built the wild animal park 30 years ago.