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West African Crowned Crane

As we’ve learned more about avian flu, we’ve adjusted the care of our bird residents accordingly.

In February 2022, we let you know that our bird residents would be moved to behind-the-scenes habitats due to reported cases of avian flu in our County. While most of our bird family are back in their regular habitats, a few species remain in those behind-the-scenes areas. We wanted to give you an update on these bird residents – and what you might see around the Zoo in the coming months.

We had hoped that avian flu cases in our County would decrease as wild birds carrying this illness moved out of the area, but cases have remained steady over the past few months. We’re thankful to share that none of our bird residents have contracted this disease, although we have found wild birds on Zoo grounds with avian flu.

“The difference with this outbreak is unclear,” said Dr. Trevor Zachariah, our Director of Veterinary Programs. “We do not yet know if it is due to something about the virus or the conditions under which the outbreak occurred, some of both, or something else.”

Avian flu causes a number of symptoms in birds like lethargy, inappetence and neurologic signs.

“There is no cure,” Dr. Zachariah said. “Time from infection to illness is typically rapid, and most birds succumb to the disease. In both wild and managed flocks, the disease can spread quickly.”

As we’ve learned more about this illness, we’ve adjusted the care of our bird residents accordingly. You may notice that our Southern ground hornbills Newman and J.D., Marbou stork Fezzik and West African crowned cranes Goose and Royal are no longer visible in the Expedition Africa habitat they share with our klipspringers. Once we add fencing in the yard to prevent these bird residents from accessing the nearby waterway and wild waterfowl, we’ll return them to their regular habitat.

“Waterfowl are the primary carriers of the disease, and water contamination is the main route through which the disease is spread among them and to other birds,” Dr. Zachariah said.

Some of our species, like our flamingos, bald eagles and sandhill cranes, will remain in behind-the-scenes habitats for now. Our animal care team continues to provide these bird residents with the care they need to thrive. Their excellent care made it possible for our very first Chilean flamingo chick to be born this fall!

As we continue monitoring avian flu cases in our County and our Zoo, we will keep you updated on the measures we’re taking to keep all our birds safe.

Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.