TOPEKA (KSNT) – The Topeka Zoo is taking additional safety precautions for its bird species in light of the recent identification of bird flu in Shawnee County.
Bird flu, or highly pathogenic avian influenza, was recently found in a Shawnee County backyard flock of birds. The Kansas Department of Agriculture has quarantined the farm, depopulated the birds there and established a reporting zone that covers parts of Topeka.
The Topeka Zoo, which is home to over 30 different species of birds, told 27 News that it has taken several precautions to help protect their feathered animals. Dr. Shirley Llizo, Director of Animal Health at the Zoo, elaborated on some of the safety measures in place.
“Our main concern is our trumpeter swans because they’re out there on the pond,” Llizo said. “The transfer of bird flu comes from birds landing in the pond and they try to eat the food the swans get. The swans are at risk more so than other birds in the zoo because of their location and where they’re housed.”
Llizo said that the zoo has stopped the swan feeders located near the pond for the time being to help discourage wild birds from landing there. The staff have also been instructed to wear covers over their shoes when walking through places that wild birds traffic to reduce the possibility of spreading the bird flu to other exhibits.
The Topeka Zoo was already on alert when this latest news of the bird flu came out. Earlier this year, the Topeka Zoo, along with several other Kansas zoos, took precautions to protect their birds when it was found that the bird flu was being spread by wild waterfowl.
“We had a scare earlier this year in the spring,” Llizo said. “It’s the migration period of wild waterfowl. So now we’re experiencing the opposite migration pattern for the winter.”
Llizo said that it’s not possible to bring all of their birds indoors due to a lack of available space and that many of the birds would be too stressed with such a move.