Reid Park Zoo Initiates Plan as First Avian Flu Cases Appear in Arizona

Over the last few months, a strain of avian influenza has been a threat to birds across the country. Recently, the flu has been identified in a small number of wild birds in Arizona. In response, Reid Park Zoo is taking preventative measures to protect Reid Park Zoo’s bird collection. . 

“The welfare and well-being of the animals in our care is always our priority. Planning for threats such as avian influenza are a part of our standard biosecurity protocols at the Zoo and it’s something we take very seriously,” said Dr. Sue Tygielski, Director of Zoo Operations. “Now that the virus has reached Arizona, we have put the first phase of our safety plan into action and moved the birds most at risk of contracting the virus behind the scenes.”

If more cases of avian influenza are identified in Arizona, additional bird species will become unavailable for public viewing until the threat passes.

Emergency plans for avian influenza are based on recommendations from the biosafety procedures developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS) to help prevent the potential spread of the virus from native wild birds. 

“We are also in communication with the State Veterinarian’s Office and other zoos to monitor developments and learn from those already managing avian influenza in their states,” said Tygielski. 

Avian influenza is a contagious and sometimes deadly virus that affects birds. It is spread through fecal matter, saliva, and nasal discharges from wild birds and can also be transmitted from humans to birds through contaminated equipment and clothing. Health experts say that while the disease poses a serious threat to some bird species, its risk to humans is low.