February 1, 2023

Dawson County Journal

Dawson County, Nebraska

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium Closes Simmons Aviary,Lied Jungle and Desert Dome Due to Avian Influenza Death

Omaha, Neb. (October 14, 2022) – The Simmons Aviary, Lied Jungle, and the Desert Dome at
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium will be closed to guests beginning Saturday, October
15, 2022, due to the death of a Pink backed pelican from Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza
(HPAI). These exhibits will be closed for at least 10 days.

The pelican died yesterday, October 13, and was tested as part of the Zoo’s continued
surveillance for Avian influenza. A second pelican became ill today and was euthanized. The
Zoo’s pelicans currently live outside, and while they can come into contact with wild waterfowl,
they have no contact with other Zoo birds. Wild waterfowl carry the HPAI virus, often without
becoming sick, and detections of HPAI have increased across the country over the past few
weeks due to the fall migration pattern. No other Zoo birds have shown any symptoms or
required testing.

“It is very important that Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium immediately tighten our
protocols to protect our birds and guard against any potential spread of Avian influenza,” said
Dr. Sarah Woodhouse, Director of Animal Health for Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and
Aquarium. “As discussed back in the spring, the Zoo has a prevention and response plan in
place. We were operating at a level 2 response given some recent cases in the western part of
Nebraska, but now that we know there are infected wild birds in the area, we have gone
immediately to level 5. This is important both to prevent infection of other Zoo birds, and to
prevent the virus from being dispersed off Zoo grounds.”

“The major way that HPAI is transmitted is from the feces of infected wild birds. This can
happen as wild birds fly overhead, or by someone stepping in infected wild bird feces and
carrying the infection with them on their shoes,” said Dr. Woodhouse. “In addition to closing the
Zoo’s bird areas, precautions have been put in place for staff including foot baths, limited access,
and protective clothing.”

“We wanted to get the information about the exhibit closures to the public as quickly as possible’
continued Dr. Woodhouse. “We are working with the USDA and the Nebraska State
Veterinarian, and we will keep the public updated if anything changes.”

The Simmons Aviary was previously closed between March 3 and June 23 as a precaution
against HPAI. During that time, none of the birds living at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and
Aquarium or at the Wildlife Safari Park were infected by Avian influenza.
Consistently ranked as one of the world’s top zoos, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is
an independent not-for-profit organization accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums
(AZA). The Zoo is recognized nationally for its conservation, animal care and exhibit design. As
a leader in conservation, the Zoo’s Center for Conservation and Research focuses on areas to
benefit animal husbandry and species conservation including conservation genetics, conservation
medicine, reproductive sciences, and comparative nutrition. More information is available at

Source: Nebraska Regional News