An outbreak of bird flu has prompted the Omaha Zoo to close several exhibits

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha has closed several exhibits and taken other precautions after one of its pelicans died of bird flu.

The zoo said one of its pink pelicans that died Thursday tested positive for highly pathogenic bird flu. A second pelican became ill on Friday and was euthanized.

As a precaution, the zoo has closed the Lied Jungle, Desert Dome and Simmons Aviary exhibits to the public for at least 10 days.

The Omaha Zoo was one of many around the country that locked up its aviaries and moved as many birds inside as possible to protect them from bird flu, which is spread primarily through wild bird droppings.

The zoo reopened its aviary in June after the bird flu subsided, but there were some cases across the country throughout the summer and the outbreak picked up again this fall.

More than 47 million chickens and turkeys were killed in 42 states to limit the spread of bird flu during this year’s outbreak. Authorities order the slaughter of entire herds when the virus appears on farms. Last month, more than 6 million chickens and turkeys were killed to limit the spread of the disease.

The Omaha Zoo also takes precautions to protect its birds, limiting staff access to them and requiring workers to clean their shoes before entering areas where the birds are kept.

The zoo said its pelicans live outdoors, so they interact with wild birds. But pelicans do not come into contact with other birds at the zoo, and no bird in the zoo’s collection has shown signs of bird flu.

“It is extremely important that the Henry Doorly Zoo and Omaha Aquarium immediately tighten our protocols to protect our birds and protect against any potential spread of bird flu,” said Sarah Woodhouse, the zoo’s director of animal health. “This is important both to prevent infection of other zoo birds and to prevent the virus from spreading from the zoo.”

Unlike farms, zoos are generally allowed to isolate and treat an infected bird as long as they take precautions to protect other birds in their collection.

Health officials stress that bird flu does not compromise food safety because infected birds are not allowed to eat, and that properly cooking meat and eggs to 165 degrees Fahrenheit kills any viruses.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Latest

To Top