Donations to a zoo where a number of animals died in a devastating blaze have topped £90,000, according to bosses at the visitor attraction.
A fire broke out in the tropical house of the Five Sisters Zoo, West Lothian, in the early hours of April 14 this year.
Fifty firefighters tackled the blaze at its height but it killed every creature in the enclosure, which housed a range of reptiles, invertebrates and small mammals.
A male otter and a number of meerkats in neighbouring buildings also died.
The zoo set up a fund on the day of the blaze to deal with the volume of calls from members of the public wanting to donate money to the West Calder attraction.
Every penny of the money accrued will now go towards the planned construction of a new tropical house, bosses said.
They said the public response was “totally overwhelming” and had helped them through a difficult time.
Lesley Coupar, of marketing and visitor services at the family-run zoo, said: “We’re certainly up to over £90,000. It’s just absolutely amazing. We’ve put it into a separate fund and we’re keeping that specifically for the new-build.
“This has carried us through the last few months. We’ve now got a spring in our step, we’ve really got a much more positive attitude.
“For us the message came through loud and clear that ‘the zoo’s a fabulous place, we really want it to continue and we would be so sorry if anything happened to it’.
“We just didn’t have any idea how both the local population and the wider population felt about the zoo.”
Ms Coupar said donations ranged from 50p from children’s pocket money to £1,500 from a boy who organised a sponsored conga.
Scots singing star Susan Boyle has also backed the zoo with two visits and a donation.
The fire initially hit visitor numbers, with would-be visitors mistakenly thinking the attraction was closed, although numbers through the doors are said to have picked up over the summer holidays.
The rebuilding project is still in the planning stages but bosses expect to have a clearer idea of the way forward for it in the coming weeks.
“We’ve agreed a settlement with the insurance company which will go towards that as well,” said Ms Coupar.
“We’re just trying to see what we can afford and what’s the best that we can do to make sure it’s a fitting tribute to both the animals that we lost and also to the remarkable public support that we’ve had.”
The visitor attraction has received several offers of free building work and materials, which it is hoped will help to limit the overall costs.
The blaze, described at the time as the zoo’s “worst nightmare”, completely destroyed the tropical house and the immediate buildings around it.
Snakes, lizards, turtles, tortoises and an ant colony were among the creatures which perished in the blaze. In total, 48 different species were lost.
The zoo has welcomed the donation of a male otter by Hoo Farm in Shropshire, which has said to have given some much-needed company to the female otter who lost her partner.
Ms Coupar said: “They’re totally enjoying each other’s company. They go everywhere, do everything together. It’s just a lovely, happy story.”
The surviving meerkats are also back in their enclosures and are said to be making great progress.
Fire investigations ruled the cause of the fire was inconclusive, Ms Coupar said, although suspicious circumstances have been ruled out.