ABQ BioPark isolates birds, closes exhibit due to bird flu concern

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A positive case of avian flu, also known as bird flu, in Bernalillo County has sparked a response from the ABQ BioPark. Leaders moved a large majority of the birds inside, and closed the popular penguin chill exhibit in order to avoid cross contamination and possible exposure.

The USDA told the zoo last week it came from a “non-commercial flock.”

“Somebody that owns probably some chickens in their backyard, something like that. But it could’ve been goose, could’ve been ducks,” said Albuquerque BioPark Associate Director, Bob Lee. “Birds were brought inside, other habitats were tarped to protect them from exposure.”

Lee says the case still poses a threat to the birds at the park.

“Just them passing through the BioPark they could actually give it to the animals here,” said Lee. “This is a fly through area so they’re always landing, checking things out, and moving on. So we’re a regular spot for wild birds.”

Their sole focus is now stopping or limiting exposure, and staying prepared.

“It can spread within a flock so we would probably isolate that animal, get them the veterinary care that they need and protect the rest of the animals for sure,” said Lee. “It can transmit to other animals but the likelihood of that’s pretty low, so it’s mainly the birds we’re watching.”

There’s no timeline on when these habitats will reopen. Zoo leaders say they’re working with state and local health leaders, and taking it day by day.

None of the 90 birds or penguins in isolation right now are showing any symptoms of the virus.