Since receiving the positive test results for avian influenza in two of our birds, we have been cooperating with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) to investigate the infection and implement the necessary biosecurity and quarantine measures.
The positive test results have meant that we have been placed under a restriction notice by APHA, and the findings of their investigation have led to a list of actions that we are now required to comply with before this restriction can be lifted. The prompt response of our teams has meant that the number of affected birds has been kept to a minimum but APHA have identified 2 areas of concern: the main lake and our free-ranging peafowl.
The main lake houses our Dalmatian pelican, sarus crane, bar-headed geese, greylag geese, black necked swan, and red crested pochard. The majority of these birds, along with almost all of our peafowl, have been rounded up and placed into biosecure quarantine facilities elsewhere in the zoo. Despite the phenomenal efforts by our teams, a small number of birds have so far evaded capture and we are now in the very difficult position of accepting that these individuals must be removed by other means. We will therefore be complying with APHA’s requirement that these birds be humanely culled by a specialist APHA team.
As a conservation charity, we exist to help halt species decline and we firmly believe that every species is important so we are doing everything we can to protect our animals, many of which are endangered. Our conservation mission extends to species and habitats across the globe, as well as those that live in our zoos and reserves. Our expert bird team cares for over 400 birds, including some of the world’s most threatened species, and we remain determined to continue this vital work despite this devastating setback.
We continue to work with APHA and Defra to determine the next steps for those birds that have already been placed into secure quarantine and hope to provide further updates on them soon. We also continue to make the necessary changes to enclosures and aviaries around the site to strengthen the biosecurity and safety of our other birds away from the main lake area.
Our priority throughout has been the health and welfare of our birds and we have been doing all we can to ensure their safety and the continued provision of their usual excellent care. This is a heart-breaking situation and we repeat our earlier message of thanks to the many hundreds of people who have offered their support, and made donations to our zoo.
If you would like to support us in these challenging times, please visit our website and you will find various ways to do so in our Support Us section.
We hope to open again fully to the public this weekend (Saturday, 10 September) and will provide further updates via our website and social media.