San Diego Zoo

Concerns About Spread of Avian Flu Prompt Preps at San Diego Zoo, Safari Park

The San Diego Zoo and Safari Park have 3,700 birds in their care.

The entrance to the San Diego Zoo
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An outbreak of bird flu in the U.S. that is spreading has prompted the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park to begin preparing for an outbreak.

The HAN1 avian flu initially appeared in North Carolina and has since broken out in more than half the states in the country, spreading as far west as Utah and resulting in the killing of 27 million turkeys, chickens and other birds, according to federal officials, who said this week that two zoos have reported the virus in their bird collections. They would not disclose which zoos those were.

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The San Diego Zoo and Safari Park have 3,700 birds in their care.

Hendrik Nollen, Vice President of Wildlife Health at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, told NBC 7 that the zoo and safari park are making preparations to help prevent an outbreak.

"So we are preparing for the scenario where it does become a more immediate threat for the birds in our care," Nollens said. "It's really it's a disease of birds. It's a disease of concern for birds because it can cause high rates of sickness."

The zoo is also making sure they have enough bird cages in the event they need to isolate birds and making sure they have enough supplies to take care of them.

"The silver lining here is that we always have really strict biosecurity guidelines in place, right? We always have a lot of measures in place to protect the health of wildlife in our care," Nollens said.

Rob Vernon, a spokesman for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, said in a public statement that a full response will be in effect for "at least the next few months, until transmission subsides."

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