Nebraska: Omaha Zoo closes aviary due to bird flu


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Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha Simmons Aviary, Lied Jungle, and Desert Dome are closed due to the death of pink pelicans due to highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

The shutdown began on October 15 and is set to last 10 days.

According to the zoo, the pelican died on October 13, and was tested as part of the zoo’s ongoing monitoring of bird flu. Another pelican fell ill the next day and died mercifully.

The zoo’s swans currently live outside, and although they can come into contact with wild waterfowl, they do not communicate with other zoo birds. Wild waterfowl often carry the HPAI virus without getting sick, and the detection of HPAI has increased across the country over the past few weeks due to the migration pattern in the fall. None of the other zoo birds showed any symptoms or required tests.

“It is very important that the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha immediately tighten our protocols to protect our birds and guard against any potential spread of avian influenza,” said Dr. Sarah Woodhouse, director of animal health at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha. “As discussed back in the spring, the zoo has a prevention and response plan in place. We were working on a level 2 response looking at some recent cases in the western part of Nebraska, but now that we know there are infected wild birds in the area, we’ve moved on immediately. to level 5. This is important to prevent infecting other zoo birds, and to prevent the virus from spreading outside the zoo grounds.”

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The main mode of transmission of HPAI is from the feces of infected wild birds. This can happen when wild birds fly overhead, or when someone steps in the feces of infected wild birds and takes the infection with them on their shoes,” Dr. Woodhouse said. “In addition to closing birding areas at the zoo, precautions have been taken for staff including bathrooms footwear, limited access, and protective clothing.”

The rest of the zoo, including Mahoney Kingdoms of the Night, will remain open.

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