Avian flu causes Berlin zoo to close

Berlin’s zoo closed its doors without warning over the weekend out of precaution after a case of avian flu was discovered in a wading bird that died earlier this week, it said in a statement.

The zoo, which welcomed over 3.7 million guests in 2019, its latest figure, did not mention when it would reopen to visitors.

“We have reacted immediately with far-reaching quarantine measures. Almost all birds – including our penguins – have now been moved to rear aviaries or stables,” said Christian Kern, the zoological director of the zoo in Berlin’s centre as well as the Tierpark zoo in the eastern part of the German capital.

Kern added that no other birds were showing corresponding signs of illness but all would still be tested for bird flu.

The entire zoo has been closed to visitors to avoid the risk of bird flu being introduced into other populations, according to the statement, and staff are wearing protective clothing.

The spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza, commonly called bird flu, is a concern for governments and the poultry industry due to the devastation it can cause to flocks, the possibility of trade restrictions and a risk of human transmission.

Separately, more than 30 birds have died at two central London parks.

The birds were found dead at Hyde Park and Kensington Palace over the last fortnight, Royal Parks said.

The body said it was “very concerned” about its “largest ever” outbreak, which has seen 48 million birds culled across the UK and EU in the last year.

Several other suspected cases of bird flu deaths have also been reported across London in recent weeks.

Royal Parks said it has asked Defra, the government department managing the outbreak, to test the carcasses.

A spokesperson said: “In two of the spaces we manage, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, we believe that some birds have possibly contracted and died from avian influenza.”

“We are unable to prevent wild birds from getting the virus, but we are carrying out enhanced monitoring of our waterbodies to check for signs of illness and to ensure that any dead birds are removed immediately. ”