HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) — Trying to keep everyone outside is so, like, three months ago at ZooAmerica.
“We’re trying to keep our birds inside, keep our programs inside and protect our birds, taking them inside,” Theresa Wilson, ZooAmerica’s manager, said Friday. “Kind of a reverse of everything that we just went through in the last few years.”
That was because of COVID-19. This is because of avian flu, a virus that’s killing millions of chickens and turkeys across America. The situation at zoos isn’t nearly as dire, but to keep it that way, zoo leaders are taking steps that could be a bit less comfortable for birds and a bit less interesting for zoo visitors.
The measures, which at ZooAmerica began in late February, include adding mesh roofs above enclosures where that’s practical and in which less susceptible birds live — the thick-billed parrots, still in their usual home and still visible to visitors, are a good example. You can still see owls and spoonbills too, among others, because of a combination of where they live and their relatively low susceptibility to the virus. Ditto for the roadrunner and quail.
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The red-tailed hawk and bald eagle, on the other hand, are among 14 birds from seven different species living inside the zoo’s animal health center. Signs outside their usual enclosures explain to visitors why they’re not there.
The virus spreads among birds through fecal material and nasal secretions. Wilson said if the avian flu epidemic worsens, the zoo could feel forced to take additional measures, including moving more birds inside.