Due to the emergence of a newly discovered Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in wild waterfowl along the East Coast, the Cape May County Zoo’s “World of Birds” aviary will be closed to the public temporarily, effective immediately, as a precautionary measure to protect the bird population.
No cases of HPAI are reported at the zoo at this time.
“HPAI is a highly transmissible influenza virus that can affect many different species of birds. It is normally shed in the feces of migratory waterfowl, so infection is possible anywhere that waterfowl are common. Because Cape May County is considered such an important migratory route for waterfowl, and the zoo holds many threatened and endangered birds, we are taking some steps to mitigate the risk of infection,” Dr. Alexander Ernst, associate veterinarian at the zoo, said in a news release.
Steps include closing the aviary to guests. Zoo employees are also implementing new biosecurity measures, including quarantining high-risk species and using personal PPE designed to reduce contamination to the bird habitats.
“Any Cape May County resident who has birds as pets or backyard poultry flocks are encouraged to stay informed about this new epidemic and consider implementing strategies designed to reduce risk to their own personal birds,” Ernst advised.
HPAI does not present an immediate public health concern. There have been no cases of avian influenza in humans detected in the U.S.
“The Cape May County Zoo remains open to the public with the exception of the World of Birds exhibit and we welcome visitors to enjoy our parks and zoo every day. When the World of Birds reopens, we will let the public know. Our veterinarians and zoo staff will remain vigilant during this time to ensure the safety and well-being of our birds,” said Cape May County Commissioner E. Marie Hayes, liaison to the zoo.
The Cape May County Zoo is free and open daily from 10 a.m. to 3:30 pm. The County Parks are open daily from 7 a.m. until dusk. For more information, visit www.cmczoo.com.