The North Carolina Zoo has closed off its popular aviary exhibit to the public after receiving reports of bird flu in wild birds in the eastern regions of the state, WRAL reports. Zoo officials explained the closure as being a "preventative" measure made out of an abundance of caution.
"Closing the Aviary is a preventative, precautionary measure to protect all our bird species at the zoo as the disease can spread very quickly and is often fatal to them," said Dr. Jb Minter, director of animal health at the North Carolina Zoo.
According to a news release from the zoo, the Avian Flu, also known as the bird flu, is a highly contagious viral disease that can have devastating effects on birds. If the disease were to spread, it could even impact poultry farms as well as commercial and backyard flocks.
Fortunately for the zoo, none of the birds in the Aviary have exhibited any signs of the disease but the zoo will immediately test any birds that show clinical symptoms. Biosecurity measures for zoo staff have also increased for the time being, restricting who is allowed to work with the birds in the Aviary. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk to the general public is low as bird to human virus transmission is very rare.
It is unclear when the Aviary will reopen to the public but zoo officials will work with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and the USDA to determine when it is safe to do so.