Saint Louis Zoo closes bird house due to bird flu concerns

Bird flu
Bird flu(Preston Keres / USDA)
Published: Mar. 18, 2022 at 11:38 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KFVS) - The Saint Louis Zoo temporarily closed two of its aviary attractions to the public as a proactive step in protecting birds in their care from the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) virus.

HPAI is also known as bird flu and is fatal.

The bird house and Cypress Swamp will be closed until further notice, and the Penguin & Puffin Coast will close at 4 p.m. daily so that staff can conduct a deep cleaning of the habitat.

The closures were announced on Thursday, March 17.

Some birds with outdoor habitats will be stay where they are on the property. The zoo said their surroundings can protect them from catching the virus.

Other birds have been moved indoors.

The zoo said the closures are a precautionary measure to cut down on shared human and animal foot traffic.

The Missouri department of Agriculture says bird flu is spread from bird to bird, most often from wild birds and water foul to chicken and turkeys, through “fecal droppings, saliva, and nasal discharges.”

They explained in a Facebook post that wild birds, possibly with HPAI, could land on zoo grounds during migration and spread the virus.

The Missouri Department of Conservation confirmed this week there have been a total of 11 bird flu cases in the state this spring, including one in St. Louis County and one in St. Charles County.

The cases were in wild birds, including geese, bald eagles and an American white pelican.

In early March, the Missouri Department of Agriculture announced the detection of HPAI in a commercial flock in Stoddard County.

MDC says some birds infected with HPAI show neurological symptoms, such as tremors, head tilting, lethargy, loss of coordination, inability to fly or walk properly, or trouble standing upright.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recent HPAI detections do not present an immediate public health concern.

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