Concerned about a bird flu outbreak, the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo has removed its birds from public viewing and canceled all bird interactions, including the popular flamingo feeding activity, until further notice.
Avian influenza in wild birds and poultry is common in the U.S. but typically poses low risk to humans, according to the zoo’s website. The outbreaks do pose a threat to local birds, however, and the zoo, located at 1451 Middlefield Road, is taking precautions to protect its feathered inhabitants.
The current outbreak of avian influenza is highly pathogenic, according to a press release from Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society. Four cases were detected in Canada geese and red-tailed hawks in Santa Clara County in August and early September.
Avian influenza typically is restricted to aquatic birds.
"This is primarily because of the watery habitat they enjoy, which assists in the spread of the virus," Matthew Dodder, executive director of Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, said in an emailed statement. "It is well known that wildfowl, particularly ducks and geese, will make use of small urban ponds and pools."
Since its recent renovation, the zoo has provided a place for birds and other animals to roam freely with visitors under a netted roof in an outdoor space called Loose in the Zoo. Until the removal of the birds, visitors could watch spoonbills hunting with their bills in the water, interact with the resident peacock, talk to Manusela the salmon-crested cockatoo or hand-feed the flamingos.
To replace its bird activities, the zoo is offering interactive Zookeeper Talks throughout the day.