Apr 4, 2022 - News

Philly Zoo temporarily closes bird exhibits over bird flu concerns

Penguins waddle in its exhibit at the Philadelphia Zoo
Penguins at the Philadelphia Zoo. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Zoo

The Philadelphia Zoo has temporarily moved its birds indoors as bird flu spreads across the country.

What's happening: While there are no confirmed cases of the flu at the zoo, officials tell Axios they closed several bird exhibits, including penguins, emus, vultures and bald eagles, out of precaution last month.

  • Philadelphia Zoo officials say this is the first time in the zoo's history that the risk is high enough to warrant the closing of exhibits.

Threat level: The move comes after bird flu was detected in nearby Cape May, New Jersey, in late February.

  • The Pennsylvania Game Commission also confirmed one case in a bald eagle in Chester County in March.

The big picture: Concerns are growing nationwide that the fast-spreading disease could devastate the poultry industry. More than 20 states have confirmed cases in domestic or wild birds, but no human cases have been detected.

What they're saying: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the current outbreak is at low risk to the general public.

  • Although it is possible for humans to contract the virus, it's incredibly rare, according to Rachel Metz, the Philadelphia Zoo's vice president of animal well-being.

Be smart: The Pennsylvania Game Commission recommends observing wildlife from a safe distance and avoiding surfaces that could be contaminated with bird feces to prevent potentially coming into contact with the virus.

What's ahead: The zoo has not set a reopening date for the bird exhibits. Officials say it's possible they could stay closed until the fall.

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