Patron Saint of animals spared amidst Zoosiana fire

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Zoosiana is recovering from a devastating weekend fire. The blaze destroyed the zoo’s train depot and butterfly exhibit, leaving nothing but ashes and debris all around.

But one thing remained intact and unharmed– a statue.

George Oldenburg, Zoosiana’s owner says, “I’m looking around, I noticed the statue.. everything burned around it front and back sides and the statue was not touched at all.. no flame marks or anything. Not one animal was hurt during this whole event so it gives me goosebumps when I think about it.”

Take a look around me– ashes are on the ground.. debris is everywhere.. all from a fire that started here at Zoosiana, but only one thing remained. A statue of the patron saint of animals.

A statue of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, has stood in the same spot for 16 years. It was the only thing that did not catch fire or even break.

“But all the surrounding vegetation’s been burned so very concerned that it would spread especially over here. I have a nice collection of squirrel monkeys and was worried about those guys,” Oldenburg adds.

It’s undetermined what the cause of the fire was. Oldenburg says it’s a true blessing that no animals were hurt and thinks Saint Francis helped see to that.

Oldenburg says, “I really think Saint Francis had a lot to do with it.”

As for the butterfly exhibit, Oldenburg says it’s not replaceable, but he plans on building another train and hopes to come back better than ever.

“I still consider myself very lucky that nobody was hurt and no animals were hurt. So we’re going to redo it. We’ll make it bigger and better,” Oldenburg says.

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