Avian flu has shut down bird exhibits at the Sedgwick County Zoo for at least 30 days
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Around 850 birds reside at the Sedgwick County Zoo, but beginning Tuesday most of them will not be on display for the public.
“So right now the tropics building and the Australian South American walk-through exhibit are both closed to our guests. And then our Flamingo flock and our Pelican flock are off exhibit,” said Anne Heitman, a curator of birds at the Sedgwick County Zoo.
This decision was made after a deceased duck was discovered on zoo property two weeks ago.
“That bird was sent in for testing and Monday afternoon the results for that test had come back and told us that that bird had tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza,” said Heitman.
So far the actual disease has not impacted any of the birds kept at the zoo but to keep the animals safe, the exhibits will be closed for at least thirty days.
"So, avian influenza is mostly carried and spread by wild water fowl so migration season is when we see a lot of the spread of the disease as those wild water fowl migrate through our area,” said Heitman.
If you go to the zoo you can still see certain farm birds, storks, cranes, and the penguins; however, the Wild Encounters with penguins have been postponed indefinitely.
“We're not inviting our guests behind the scenes to interact with the penguins. And that's just to help reduce the possibility of exposing them,” Heitman explained.
This strain of avian flu is the same one that caused the zoo to shut down exhibits last year as well.
“Our guests are very understanding and everybody knows that having the buildings closed is in the best interest for the birds. Because not having people walk through the building does reduce the chance of it being tracked in on shoes, or stroller tires and things like that,” said Heitman.