A night-time fire at a German zoo early Saturday killed 26 animals and gutted an elephant house.

With flames licking through the building, zookeepers managed to free the elephants and hippopotamuses and take them outside the building to safety, police in Karlsruhe, south—west Germany, said.

Help arrived too late to save the goats, sheep, ponies and donkeys in the adjacent petting—zoo section.

Small children are allowed to pat and feed docile domesticated species in the petting area. Karlsruhe Zoo is situated in an inner—city park, close to the city’s main railway station.

There was no word on the cause of the fire, which began in wooden huts in the petting—zoo area before spreading to the elephant house.

Fire-fighters were still struggling after daybreak to put out the blaze. Police said the damage would costs hundreds of thousands of euros to fix.