What is avian influenza?
Bird flu is an infection caused by avian (bird) influenza (flu) viruses. These flu viruses occur naturally among birds. Wild birds worldwide carry the viruses, but usually do not get sick from them. However, it is very contagious and can cause life-threatening illness in susceptible birds, including many zoo species.
Infected birds shed flu virus in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. Susceptible birds become infected when they have contact with contaminated excretions or surfaces that are contaminated with excretions. It is believed that most cases of bird flu infection in humans have resulted from contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces.
How does avian influenza impact the Zoo?
The Zoo is taking precautions to protect our birds from potential exposure to avian influenza. These protections differ depending on the species and the structure of their habitat. High-risk bird species and birds in open-air habitats without roofing or mesh have been moved to indoor, protected areas. Decisions regarding closure or reopening of walk-thru aviaries, The Bird Show, and additional bird encounters will be made based on veterinary staff recommendations.
To protect our staff and our animals, personal protective equipment will be worn by staff when around birds or in their spaces. Staff access to areas with susceptible species is limited to those essential for the animal’s care. Areas of potential exposure are disinfected regularly.
The Zoo’s precautions include:
- Winged Wonders Bird Show – Closed to Guests
- Rainforest Aviary & Australasian Aviary – Closed to Guests
- Bird of Prey, Flamingo, Crested Screamers, Emu, Ostrich, and Pelicans – Animals Off Exhibit