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'Where are the birds?': Saint Louis Zoo moves birds indoors to protect from bird flu

"The primary risk to the birds at the Zoo would come from wild birds that land on Zoo grounds during migration," the Zoo said in an Instagram post.
Credit: KSDK

ST. LOUIS — The Saint Louis Zoo is taking extra precautions to protect its birds from the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza(HPAI) virus that has been found in the St. Louis area.

The Zoo said it will be moving some of its birds indoors as a precaution to protect against the virus. Other bird facilities will also have different hours or be closed altogether so staff can better protect the animals.

"The primary risk to the birds at the Zoo would come from wild birds that land on Zoo grounds during migration," the Zoo said in an Instagram post.

The Bird House and Cypress Swamp (also known as the Flight Cage) will be closed to guests until further notice. The Penguin & Puffin Coast will close at 4 p.m. so the staff can deep clean the habitat.

The Zoo is partnering with the State Veterinarian, United States Department of Agriculture and Missouri Department of Conservation to keep the birds safe. They said other steps may become necessary.

The Zoo said "HPAI does not pose any immediate human health concerns at the Zoo."

In St. Louis County, a presumptive positive bird flu case was found in a wild bird, officials with the county's health department said Wednesday.

This is the sixth case of bird flu reported in wild birds in Missouri in Spring 2022 and the first case in St. Louis County, officials said.

Bird flu has been detected in the U.S. in recent months in both wild birds and commercial flocks.

Any bird can get infected with bird flu, according to the county health department's statement.

RELATED: Bird Flu: Presumptive positive case found in St. Louis County

Infected birds will display neurological symptoms like tremors, head tilting, and the inability to fly or walk properly.

For more information about bird flu, click here.

Steps to minimize the risk:

  • Avoid handling sick or dead birds, particularly wild birds. 
  • If you find a wild bird that is acting abnormal, please contact the St. Louis Regional Office of the Missouri Department of Conservation at (636) 441-4554. 
  • For domestic birds, please call the Animal Health Division of the Missouri Department of Agriculture at (573) 751-3377.
  • If you eat poultry or wild game, please make sure to cook the meat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Hunters should be careful while harvesting birds in the field or at home – it is possible to transport the virus on boats, waders, or other equipment.
  • Please make sure to allow your hunting equipment to dry between outings.

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