Toronto Zoo closing bird aviaries after bird flu found in southern Ontario farm
Published Wednesday, March 15, 2023 9:39PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 15, 2023 9:39PM EDT
The Toronto Zoo is closing its bird aviaries to the public as a precautionary measure after avian influenza was detected at a southern Ontario commercial poultry farm.
In a news release Wednesday, the zoo said it was implementing steps “out of an abundance of caution” to protect its birds.
Also known as bird flu, the contagious viral infection was confirmed in a poultry farm within 200 kilometres of the zoo, the release read.
As a result, the following measures will be in effect starting Thursday: the walk-through bird aviaries in the pavilions will be closed to guests or significantly modified to protect the birds; guests will be re-directed in pavilions to manage guest flow; and behind-the-scenes tours of animal food preparation and bird housing areas will be suspended.
Meanwhile, for zoo staff, they will be required to use footbaths/footpads/dedicated area boot changes when entering any bird aviary/exhibit and staff back entrances to all buildings housing birds. They will also temporarily stop the use of poultry as food items for zoo animals and ramp up the program to keep wild birds off the property.
“While this strain of the disease is highly contagious and lethal to birds, it is important to note there have been no human cases detected in Canada,” Toronto Zoo said.
While the zoo did not specify where the virus was reported, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), bird flu was detected on Tuesday in a commercial poultry farm in the Township of West Lincoln in the Niagara Region.
Few details have been released about the case, including how many birds are infected.
The other active bird flu investigation in the province is in a non-commercial poultry property in Chatham-Kent. It was first detected on March 10.
As of Wednesday, 757,000 birds have been impacted by bird flu in Ontario, according to the CFIA.