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Zoo, animal sanctuaries take precautions against bird flu

April 11, 2022 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin zoos and animal sanctuaries are taking precautions against the avian flu by limiting tours, closing aviaries and implementing other safety measures to protect birds against the highly contagious disease.

At the Heartland Farm Sanctuary in Verona, public and private tours are on hiatus. And, the sanctuary’s chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese and emus are quarantined in a barn for protection.

“After a long winter, everybody wants to kind of get outside and stretch their wings, and it’s just not safe. So we’re keeping everyone indoors until it’s no longer a threat,” sanctuary spokesperson Jamie Monroe said. “We successfully navigated avian flu in 2015, so this is a road we’ve traveled before.”

Milwaukee County Zoo’s aviary is temporarily closed to protect its birds, senior staff veterinarian Pamela Govett said. As state’s largest zoo, Milwaukee has a large number of birds, including flamingos, hornbills, vultures, penguins and ostriches, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

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“Avian influenza can be transmitted by feces, oral, nasal or respiratory secretions. And while we don’t think that the people are going to be transmitting it to the birds, they could definitely track it in on their clothing and their shoes,” Govett said.

The avian flu was initially detected in Wisconsin on a Jefferson County poultry farm. It’s believed to have originated with wild birds, and with spring migration in full swing, there is a risk of wild birds bringing the disease to new locations.