March 31, 2022

Zoo Takes Precautions to Protect Birds from Avian Influenza

Public urged to be cautious around wild birds


Update: Ostriches are back on exhibit. This may change as our team monitors the virus.

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is taking preventative measures to protect resident birds from Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), a virus which naturally affects wild aquatic birds, but can also infect other animal species. All animals at the Zoo are currently healthy, but birds will predominantly remain indoors for the near future.

Zoo guests will be able to see flamingos in their indoor habitat. Chickens and owls will be safely housed in barn areas without public access. Penguins remain visible to the public in their PPG Aquarium habitat as usual.

HPAI was recently confirmed in wild birds within 125 miles of Pittsburgh, prompting an increase in preventative action. The Zoo has been tracking the virus in the Eastern United States since February and was prepared to increase biosecurity measures as the virus neared the area.

“The safety of our animals and our staff remains our highest priority,” Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium President & CEO Dr. Jeremy Goodman said. “Many of the additional precautions for animal care staff have been, and in some cases, continue to be used due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

HPAI is highly contagious and frequently fatal among birds. Birds may become infected by direct contact with the virus through other birds or by infected surfaces. Many zoos in nearby states have adopted similar preventative measures as the virus entered their regions.

The virus does have the potential to spread to other species, including mammals, though the non-avian risk from the current strain of HPAI is considered to be low. Zoo guests should avoid feeding or interacting with wild birds, and are recommended to take care when interacting with personally owned pet birds and poultry.