Two Giraffes, Including ‘Waffles,' Killed in Blaze at Roer's Zoofari in Virginia

The zoo said its owner received the call at 5:30 p.m. from the fire department that the barn had caught fire

Firefighters responded to a report of a barn fire on March 8, 2021, at Roer’s Zoofari in Reston, Virginia, that ended in the deaths of two giraffes.
Fairfax County Fire/Rescue

Two giraffes are dead after a fire at Roer's Zoofari in Virginia Monday. One of the mammals in particular, named Waffles, received an outpouring of love on Facebook.

“Tonight the Roer's Zoofari staff and family are devastated following a barn fire that claimed the life of our beloved giraffe, ‘Waffles’ and his new giraffe companion yet to be named,” the zoo shared on Facebook. 

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue responded to a barn fire in the 1200 block of Hunter Mill Road in Reston, where first responders reported “fire from the roof and on two floors of a 2-story barn,” the department said in a tweet. 

The zoo said its owner, Vanessa Roer, received the call at 5:30 p.m. from the fire department that the barn had caught fire. 

“Staff and the zoo's veterinarian arrived within minutes to help rescue and care for approximately 20 other animals housed in the same area,” Roer’s Zoofari said. “We are grateful that no staff members or other Zoofari animals were injured or lost.”

At 7:25 p.m., the fire department said the blaze was under control and posted a video of what appeared to be the charred wall of a barn.

“Grief counselors are being made available for staff, who are devastated by this tragedy and who cared deeply for these members of the Zoofari family,” the zoo's post on Facebook read. 

They also thanked firefighters for their work and said they would be closed until further notice. 

As of 10:23 p.m., the Facebook post about the tragedy had over 200 comments, as people shared their stories about Waffles and shared photos of him with children. 

“I am so very sorry and so sad. We have known Waffles for years, since my daughter was an infant, thanks to him my children have learned about the beauty of giraffes and so many lessons and memories have been made throughout the years,” one commenter, Erika Edith Klein, said. “We love Waffles and this is really hard to believe. I am so sorry. You are so loved and will be terribly missed.”

The fire department has not announced what caused the fire.

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