Roger Williams Park Zoo Takes Precautions Against Avian Flu
Roger Williams Park Zoo is taking preventative measures to ensure the safety of the bird species in its care from Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), a virus that has been found in many wild birds and domestic flocks along the east coast. This is a disease the Zoo’s animal care and veterinary team has been tracking closely since February and a preparedness plan has been put in place.
When visiting, visitors may notice many of the Zoo’s birds are not in their outdoor habitats. Due to the proximity of the virus, and risks to animals, Roger Williams Park Zoo has implemented parts of its HPAI response plan in conjunction with recommendations from the state veterinarian. This includes moving the Zoo’s most susceptible species of birds (chickens, turkey, peacock, and birds of prey) off exhibit to indoor or fully meshed enclosures; increased sanitary measures and protocols; the continued use of facemasks worn around all animal species; and reporting any wild birds or animal collection birds showing signs of illness directly to veterinary staff.
“HPAI, because of its highly infectious and pathogenic nature and its zoonotic potential, is a serious concern for the Zoo and its avian collection,” said Dr. Kim Wojick, senior veterinarian at the Roger Williams Park Zoo. “Good management requires a preventative plan of action prior to the appearance of this highly pathogenic virus. The well-being of all the animals in our care is of the greatest importance.”
The status of this disease in the New England area is always changing, so precautions may change depending on where the disease is found, and recommendations from state and federal officials. The Zoo is hopeful that the cases will significantly decrease after spring migration has passed.
Roger Williams Park Zoo is Rhode Island’s number one outdoor family and tourist attraction, and a leader in conservation efforts undertaken by a zoo of its size. As leaders in conservation and animal care – we create engaging experiences that empower guests to join us in conserving wildlife and wild places. Roger Williams Park Zoo is supported and managed by the Rhode Island Zoological Society and is owned by the City of Providence.