Zoo animals off display amid bird flu fears

Signs have also been erected at certain locations
Signs have also been erected at certain locations

Birds at Blackpool Zoo have been quarantined because of a bird flu outbreak in the UK, it was revealed.

Bosses at the attraction acted after Defra extended a national housing order, which has been in place since December 6, until February 28.

Disinfectant footbaths have been situated around the zoo

Disinfectant footbaths have been situated around the zoo

Across England, poultry and other captive birds should be kept indoors, with practical steps taken to keep them separate from wild birds.

Just last week, the UK’s chief veterinary officer confirmed H5N8 avian flu in a small backyard flock near Settle in North Yorkshire.

Disinfectant footbaths have been placed around the zoo, in East Park Drive, while signs have been erected close to the Lemur Wood and Amazonia attractions.

“You may notice that some of our birds are currently off show,” visitors were told.

“This follows a recommendation by Defra due to an outbreak of bird flu in Europe. Disinfectant footbaths have also been provided at some enclosures for your use.

“We hope these precautions will be lifted just after the new year. Thank you.”

The zoo’s marketing and PR co-ordinator, Jude Rothwell, said hens and peafowl will be kept ‘enclosed and ... off show’ until at least the end of next month.

“We currently have neither lost any bird, nor have any contracted the virus which has been detected in various parts of the country, mainly in wild, migratory birds,” she said.

Domestic poultry owners are recommended to keep their birds confined to areas where they have no contact with the wild population.

If that isn’t possible, food and water containers should be placed inside housing to prevent contamination.

After the outbreak near Settle, chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens added: “We have taken swift action to limit the risk of the disease spreading. Restrictions are now in place around the affect premises and a full investigation is underway to determine the source of the infection.

“This finding in a backyard flock shows how essential it is for all poultry owners, even those who just keep a few birds as pets, to do everything they can to keep them separate from wild birds and minimise the risk of them catching avian flu via the environment.”

The same strain of bird flu has also been found in a flock in Carmarthenshire, Wales, a turkey farm in Lincolnshire, and in a number of wild birds across England, Wales, and Scotland.

Readers are encouraged to report dead wild waterfowl – such as swans, geese or ducks – or other dead birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.