The Topeka Zoo is working to protect animals after the discovery of bird flu in Shawnee County

TOPEKA (KSNT) – The Topeka Zoo is taking extra safety measures for its bird species in light of the recent identification of bird flu in Shawnee County.

Bird flu, or highly pathogenic avian influenza, was recently found in a flock of backyard birds in Shawnee County. The Kansas Department of Agriculture quarantined the farm, depopulated the birds and established a reporting zone covering parts of Topeka.

The Topeka Zoo, which is home to over 30 different species of birds, told 27 News it has taken several precautions to protect their feathered animals. dr. Shirley Llizo, director of animal health at the Zoo, elaborated on some of the safety measures in place.

“Our main concern is our trumpeter swans because they’re out there on the lake,” Llizo said. “Bird flu transmission comes from birds that land in the pond and try to eat the food that the swans get. The swans are at greater risk than other birds in the zoo because of their location and where they are housed.”

Llizo said the zoo has stopped the swan feeders near the pond for the time being to deter wild birds from landing there. Staff have also been instructed to wear covers over their shoes when walking around areas where wild birds are trafficked to reduce the possibility of bird flu spreading to other exhibits.

The Topeka Zoo was already on alert when the latest bird flu news broke. Earlier this year, the Topeka Zoo, along with several other zoos in Kansas, took precautions to protect their birds when wild waterfowl were found to be spreading bird flu.

“We had a scare earlier this year in the spring,” Llizo said. “It’s the migration period for wild waterfowl. So now we’re experiencing the opposite migration pattern for the winter.”

Llizo said it was not possible to introduce all their pigeons indoors due to lack of available space and many birds would be too stressed by such a move.

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