MELBOURNE, Fla. – Growing reports of avian influenza across the country are causing a Central Florida zoo to close its bird experiences to the public as a precaution.
The Brevard Zoo in Melbourne says its free-flight walk-through aviaries will be closed to the public until further notice.
Avian flu is highly contagious for wild birds, especially several of the birds that inhabit Brevard Zoo’s exhibits.
The USDA says a blue-winged teal in Palm Beach County tested positive for avian flu in January. There have been reports of other birds testing positive throughout the South.
While wild birds can carry the virus, they may not always get sick from it. The zoo says no birds at the facility currently have HPAI, but they are not taking any chances.
“Zoo birds susceptible to HPAI such as our macaws, black swans, Osceola turkeys and whistling ducks, will be moved to indoor habitats, while other species will receive habitat modifications to prevent contact with wild birds,” said zoo spokesperson Briana Wright.
The virus can often be deadly for domesticated birds like chickens, ducks and turkeys.
Animal care staff will also use personal protective equipment while caring for the birds.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says avian flu does not spread easily from animals to humans.