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HPAI: What is it, and how are we managing it?

May 02, 2022

Sedgwick County Zoo officials have been closely following reports from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) moving across the United States.

HPAI is a zoonotic disease that is carried by birds, mainly migratory waterfowl. While this particular strain is not believed to pose a high risk to human health, many Zoo animals are susceptible to the disease. This includes all birds, some mammals, and possibly some reptiles.

The close proximity of the disease has triggered the Sedgwick County Zoo to implement its HPAI action plan in order to protect the health of animals and humans, as well as its business operations.

To protect its bird residents, the Zoo’s bird exhibits will be closed to the public until further notice. Many birds have been moved to indoor habitats, while others have received habitat modifications to prevent contact with wild birds. Animal care staff will use personal protective equipment while caring for the birds at SCZ.

Avian influenza – commonly called “bird flu” – is a viral infection that occurs naturally in birds. Wild birds can carry the virus but may not always get sick from it. Some domesticated birds such as chickens, ducks, and turkeys can become infected, often fatally.

What does this mean for Zoo guests?

  • Australia and South America habitat remain closed to the public, with birds housed safely in the barn behind the scenes.
  • Tropics is closed to the public
  • Flamingos are off-exhibit
  • Pelicans are off-exhibit
  • Many birds in open exhibits such as storks are off-exhibit.
  • Cessna Penguin Cove has reopened to the public at this time.

We understand that the birds at Sedgwick County Zoo are favorites for many of our guests, but we thank you for your patience and understanding as we keep them safe.

Farewell to a Beloved Zoo Icon: Saying Goodbye to Boomer the Bison Happy Holidays from SCZ




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