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Lehigh Valley Zoo Announces Exhibit Renovations in Response to HPAI | WDIY Local News

Philip Brown

In response to the continued presence of a contagious avian flu, the Lehigh Valley Zoo says it is renovating one of its bird exhibits to protect against the disease. WDIY’s Sarit Laschinsky has more.

The zoo said it has begun construction on permanent roofing for its Birds of Prey exhibit to keep its inhabitants safe from the highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI.

According to a release, the exhibit’s current side screens will also be replaced with improved mesh netting to help prevent smaller wild birds from entering the exhibit.

Work is expected to take 4-6 weeks, in time for the spring migration. The project will also be done in sections, keeping some birds off-exhibit for a short period of time.

The Birds of Prey exhibit includes a number of species including the Peregrine Falcon, Red-Tailed Hawk, Black and Turkey Vultures, American and Golden Eagles, Barn, Barred and Snowy Owls.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, HPAI was confirmed along the North American Atlantic flyway in January 2022, and has since spread among both commercial flocks and wild birds.

The disease is highly contagious, and causes extreme illness and death.

In November, the zoo moved most of its birds off-exhibit to indoor spaces after cases of HPAI were reported in close proximity. Earlier last year, it also moved its African penguins and lorikeets off-exhibit for a three-month period.

Chief Veterinarian Dr. Hilary Householder said in a statement that outbreaks of HPAI are associated with wild bird migrations, and resolve once the migratory season is over.

However, she said the current outbreak “has never fully resolved,” adding that cases continue to emerge each month across the country.

(Original air-date: 1/15/23)

Sarit "Siri" Laschinsky was WDIY's News and Public Affairs Director until 2023.
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