Protecting our Flock

Protecting Our Flock

Due to a confirmed case of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) on a wild bird in our county, and out of an abundance of caution, ZooTampa is initiating preventative measures to ensure the safety of the animals in our care, which includes the temporary closing of some aviaries and relocation of select birds to alternate locations.

“People aren’t getting sick from this virus which has been identified in several states in its wild bird population,” stated Cynthia Stringfield, Sr. Director of Animal Health, Education and Conservation, “However, with 319 birds representing 96 different species in our care, we have to implement all necessary safeguards to protect our flock.”

Avian influenza is a viral infection that occurs naturally in birds. According to the USDA, no human cases of avian influenza have been detected in the United States.

“The safety of our animals, many of which are species that are under threat of extinction, is our utmost priority and we have proactive plans in place for various scenarios,” added Dr. Stringfield. “Since some of our habitats provide natural protection from wild birds, these modifications affect less than 20% of our habitats.”

ZooTampa works closely with the Florida state veterinary office, USDA, AZA, FWC and partner facilities to ensure mitigation protocols and plans meet or exceed recommendations.

“While protecting our avian population is a priority, we also implemented a plan to minimize the impact these modifications have on the guest experience,” concluded Dr. Stringfield. “We have expanded our Wildlife Connection program and are looking for ways to use this opportunity to educate guests and residents on ways they can safely live with the abundant wildlife that share the world we live in.”

FAQ

Q: Can I catch avian flu?

A: No known human infections have been reported in North America.

Q: What is avian flu and how does it spread?

A: The avian flu or bird flu is a virus that affects wild aquatic birds like ducks, geese, and swans, and it’s mostly spread through droppings or nasal discharge of infected birds.

Q: Have any birds at ZooTampa tested positive for avian flu?

A: No birds at ZooTampa have tested positive for avian flu.

Q: What is ZooTampa doing to protect its avian population?

A: ZooTampa is temporarily closing some of its aviaries and relocating some birds to alternate locations.

Q: Are all birds off public view at ZooTampa?

A: No, some of the habitats provide natural protection from wild birds, therefore those birds will remain in their current location.

Q: What can I do to help?

A: The Florida Wildlife Commission urges the public to avoid handling sick or dead wildlife, avoid direct contact with wild birds, prohibit the contact of domestic birds with wild birds, and report wild bird mortalities to FWC for investigation.

Last updated April 15, 2022