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Popular petting zoo catches fire, loses animals

KATV Little Rock/Pine Bluff logo KATV Little Rock/Pine Bluff 2/26/2022 Jack A. Webb, Shelby Rose
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A popular central Arkansas petting zoo reported widespread loss of their animals after the barn they were in caught fire Thursday.

"We just lost a huge part of our family," said volunteer Jennifer Williams. 

Cockrills Country Critters, located in Austin, announced on their Facebook page that a fire had broken out in their exotic barn. The fire started around 3 p.m., and a heat lamp in a reptile's cage is the suspected cause. 

"To walk into a scenario where we've had at least 50 just are gone, there was no preparing for this. This is devastating," Williams said.

The loss included all six of the farm's lemurs, prairie dogs, reptiles, and a beloved cockatoo named Sweetie. 

"We do have some reptiles that have made it," Williams said.  "A few of them are needing vet care. Some of them came out by grace, they were untouched, and I don't know how."

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Since the farm announced their loss on social media, hundreds have reached out expressing sympathy and offering to help.

"I mean we have people drive from other states just to come visit our farm, and to have this much love and support shown overnight, it's just been amazing," Williams added.

The farm's owner, Janice Cockrill-Griffen did not want to speak on camera because it was just too emotional, but she wanted the public to know that they will be open for spring break. A fundraiser is also being planned for the near future.

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