London Zoo shuts bird enclosures over avian flu concerns

Virulent strain in Europe prompts cautionary closure


London Zoo shuts bird enclosures over avian flu concerns

London Zoo has closed its walk-through bird enclosures over worries the animals could contract a strain of bird flu.

According to the Independent, the zoo cancelled its daily free-flying bird demonstration and moved its chickens away from children, as some strains of avian flu can pass to humans.

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Although there has been no reports of a bird in the UK suffering with avian flu in 2016, the move has come after the Government's chief vet, Nigel Gibbens ordered all bird keepers in Britain to keep their animals indoors for a month.

This 'prevention zone' means commercial birds will be kept away from wild birds to minimise the risk of contagion.

The order was reportedly given this week after a virulent type of bird flu was found in dead wild birds and some farm birds across Europe.

According to the Guardian, Mr Gibbens said: "The risk that we are trying to prevent is to our British poultry flock... to make sure these birds are protected against disease.

"Everybody should do what they can. Pet bird keepers should do their best and take sensible measures to separate them from wild birds, while looking after their welfare. I don't want people putting them in a box in the dark and keeping them there for weeks on end."

A London Zoo spokesman told Aol Travel: "ZSL London Zoo is following the guidelines as outlined by DEFRA as a precaution, and to prevent our birds from coming into contact with wild birds, we have paused our daily free-flying bird demonstration and will be keeping our chickens, which usually roam around the children's zoo, in an indoor enclosure. We've also temporarily closed our walk-through bird enclosures as per the guidelines.

"We have stringent measures permanently in place to ensure our animals remain healthy at ZSL London Zoo, and their well-being continues to be our priority."

The Food Standards Agency has reassured the public the bird flu does not pose a risk to safety.

A spokeswoman said: "On the basis of current scientific evidence, our advice is that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

"The risk of getting bird flu through the food chain is very low. Some strains of avian influenza can pass to humans, but this is very rare. It usually requires close contact between the human and infected live birds. Properly cooked chicken and turkey and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat."

Baby zoo animals around the world

Baby zoo animals around the world

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