Bird flu kills 14 pelicans at Phoenix Zoo, forces exhibit closures
PHOENIX — Bird flu has claimed the lives of 14 pelicans at the Phoenix Zoo and forced some exhibit closures, officials said Monday.
Some of the zoo’s pink-backed pelicans developed signs of neurological impairment on Oct. 15, Dr. Gary West, senior vice president of animal health and living collections, said in a press release.
The zoo’s two brown pelicans and three white pelicans also started displaying symptoms shortly after, West said.
In total, nine pink-backed pelicans, three white pelicans and two brown ones have died from the disease.
All the affected pelicans were being housed on the lake in the children’s zoo area.
They never came into contact with other zoo birds, including the dalmatian pelicans. Contamination with wild birds was possible, West said.
The outbreak caused the indefinite closure of the Tropical Flights aviary exhibit to the public. Behind the scenes flamingo tours were also halted to keep collection birds safe.
Bird flu, called Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, spreads among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species.
Zoo staff advise visitors to not touch or feed wild birds.