(WXYZ) — The Detroit Zoo announced Friday it is moving nearly all of its birds indoors after a highly contagious strain of avian influenza was detected in birds in West Michigan.
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Rural Development confirmed that 34 birds in a backyard flock in Kalamazoo County tested positive for the flu strain.
Officials have quarantined the site and the birds “will be depopulated to prevent the spread of disease,” the USDA said. They said birds from that flock will not enter the food system.
According to the zoo, similar infections have been reported across the U.S. in recent weeks.
The zoo said animal care staff are moving a majority of birds indoors and they will remain there as long as necessary to ensure their health and safety.
The birds being moved include flamingos, ostriches, cassowary, sandhill cranes and all birds housed in the aviary. The penguins will remain in the Polk Penguin Conservation Center and it will remain open because it has separate air handling systems.
“This is an important preventative measure,” said Dr. Ann Duncan, director of animal health for the DZS. “By bringing these animals indoors, we can more closely monitor them and prevent contact with wild birds who may be carriers of HPAI.”
“The animals and their needs are always our top priority,” said Dr. Hayley Murphy, executive director and CEO for the DZS. “We understand some guests may be disappointed they are unable to view the birds at this time, but we are pleased to still be able to offer dozens of world-class attractions, including our award-winning Polk Penguin Conservation Center. Despite this temporary change, we hope to see you at the Zoo. It is only with your support that we can fulfill our mission of protecting and preserving the lives of the animals in our care.”