Bird flu in Wisconsin causes Henry Vilas Zoo to close aviary - petsitterbank

Bird flu in Wisconsin causes Henry Vilas Zoo to close aviary

WISC-TV/Channel3000

MADISON, Wis. — The Henry Vilas Zoo says it is keeping its aviary closed through April as part of precautions to guard against the spread of avian flu.

In addition to the aviary closure, Zoo officials say flamingoes, chickens and penguins will be kept indoors, and their sandhill crane is being relocated to the Animal Health Center.

The moves come as a highly-contagious strain of avian flu has been detected in Wisconsin, leading to nearly 3 million chickens being euthanized at a commercial facility in Jefferson County. Nationally, more than 7 million birds — which have been mostly chickens and turkeys — have had to be killed since February due to the bird flu outbreak.

To this point, no human cases have been detected, but the Zoo’s deputy director says it could have devastating effects on their bird population if they didn’t take these prevention steps.

“We have many endangered bird species on grounds and our main priority right now is to do everything we can to protect them,” Deputy Zoo Director Joseph Darcangelo said in a statement Tuesday. “We have instituted our disease outbreak protocols to protect our high-risk bird species who live at the Zoo.”

RELATED: DATCP Confirms Highly Pathogenic Bird Flu in Jefferson County

The zoo says it will continue to work with the USDA and agencies in Wisconsin to keep an eye on the outbreak, and will continue to evaluate when it will be safe to re-open the bird habitats to the public. Other zoos in Wisconsin, including the Milwaukee County Zoo, have taken similar steps to prevent exposure to their bird populations.

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