Apr 13, 2022 - News

Nashville Zoo moves to protect its birds

A white-faced whistling duck at the walk-through lorikeet exhibit in the Nashville Zoo. Waterfowl have been removed from the exhibit.
A white-faced whistling duck at the walk-through lorikeet exhibit in the Nashville Zoo. Waterfowl have been removed from the exhibit. Photo courtesy of the Nashville Zoo

The Nashville Zoo is taking extra precautions to protect its animals from a national bird flu outbreak.

Driving the news: The Department of Agriculture announced in January that it detected a strain of the bird flu not seen in the U.S. since 2016.

  • More than 30 states have reported cases while 24 million birds have been killed to limit the spread of the virus, making this the worst bird flu outbreak since 2015, NPR reported.
  • The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has infected seven wild birds in Tennessee outside the Nashville area, per the USDA.

The big picture: No outbreaks have been detected in zoos yet, but many across the country are taking precautions.

State of play: Heather Schwartz, the Nashville Zoo's director of veterinary medicine, tells Axios bird flu safety protocol was updated this year in response to the threat.

  • Personnel pulled waterfowl from a walk-through lorikeet exhibit to protect them.
  • Waterfowl are still in enclosed exhibits elsewhere in the zoo, but heightened safety rules are in place.

What she's saying: "Right now, we are just trying to mitigate risks," Schwartz says. "Zoo staff is here to keep our animals and our visitors healthy."

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