Screengrab: Facebook / Monkey Town Primate Centre

Cape Town – Regardless of a devastating fire last night, the Monkey Town primate centre outside Somerset West says it will be business as usual from tomorrow

The entire restaurant and the adjoining play park burnt down. Monkey Town said in a statement today their Chacma Baboon enclosure also caught fire and the fencing melted. 

Luckily, no animal was injured. Monkey Town is home to more than 250 monkeys and some 400 other animals. 

"Our baboons were stuck in a tree with the fire raging beneath them. We truly believed that they were going to burn alive," Monkey Town said.

"Even with their entire enclosure open, they were too terrified to leave their area and they stayed put until this morning, when we were able to trap one of them. The other one is currently trapped in our manager's house

"The fire then spread to our lion-tailed Macaques enclosure and their neighbours, our miniature donkey family.

"We have to thank the local fire brigade. They did a great job even though they had to come back four times as the wind was not helping and the fires kept flaring up. 

"They only left our premises after 4 o’clock this morning for the last time. We are mostly thankful that no animal or human was injured!"

The centre currently has no electricity or telephone lines, but the gates will open tomorrow. 

"Things will continue as normal, except for the restaurant that is obviously non-existent. Drinks will be sold from the kiosk on site," Monkey Town said.

"The most important thing is that the animals are fine," one of the managers, Yvette Botha, told News24.

"We still do not have an idea what caused the fire. It started outside the restaurant building around 22:45. Everybody was in bed already," said Botha.

Staff living on the premises heard the alarm going off. "Someone else was screaming from the road. It was seriously bad."

City of Cape Town fire and rescue spokesperson Edward Bosch said that when firefighters arrived before 11pm, the main restaurant building was completely alight.

A total of 21 firefighters, three fire engines, two water tankers and a rescue vehicle were dispatched.

The centre has already received support, with one woman offering to raise money to rebuild the baboon enclosure.

Anyone who would like to help can email the centre at [email protected]