As we proactively respond to the worldwide Avian Influenza outbreak, please be aware additional measures are being taken to protect zoo birds.
Late last week, we learned of several cases of avian flu in Bonneville and surrounding counties. Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials recommended we move from high to critical alert.
At this time, we have had no positive cases of the avian flu among our birds.
This new level of alert means we are taking new protective measures for those animals in our collection that are at risk. The peacocks, guineafowl, flamingos and some waterfowl species have been completely removed from public habitats to back-of-house areas that are more protected. For those animals that can’t be moved or can still be safely kept outside, we have made modifications to some habitats by adding extra netting, shade sails, and other measures to keep wild birds out.
“The health and safety of our birds and zoo animals continue to be our top priority,” said Idaho Falls Zoo Director David Pennock. “We have already taken proactive measures to protect our collection, but we continue to look at best practices in response to this outbreak. We want to be as prepared as possible as the virus inches closer to the Zoo.”
Additional measures include changing who is allowed to clean and additional safety precautions to keep staff from potentially spreading the virus through foot traffic.
“We are working closely with the veterinary staff and collaborating as a team to come up with the best options for animals at the zoo to keep them safe as well as give them the best welfare during this time,” Pennock said. “We are also working with the Idaho Fish and Game and USDA Wildlife Services to take any necessary action with native wildlife and will take and send samples from any sick or deceased birds off for testing.”
This new strain of the bird flu virus emerged in Europe in late 2020 but has recently made its way to commercial and backyard poultry collections in the United States. As of May 2022, the virus has been detected in many states, including Idaho.
We will continue to provide updates as we monitor the situation.
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Photo courtesy of Tabitha Lauré Jenkins
Media Note: For more information or to schedule an interview with zoo staff, contact City of Idaho Falls Public Information Officer, Eric Grossarth at (208) 612-8562 or [email protected].
About Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park: With more than 330 individual animals representing 130 species from all around the globe, the Idaho Falls Zoo has the largest collection of animals in the state of Idaho and is considered the “Best Little Zoo in the West.” Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the zoo participates in 44 national Species Survival Plans. Learn more on our website.