© 2023 Cincinnati Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Avian flu forces Cincinnati Zoo birds back indoors

two little blue penguins
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

The Cincinnati Zoo's popular little blue penguins are missing from their outdoor habitat in Roo Valley. Not to worry — Curator of Birds Jenny Gainer says they and other outdoor birds have been moved indoors as a safety precaution against avian flu.

"The status of the birds at the Cincinnati Zoo is they are all safe and sound and in their indoor enclosures, probably for the next four to six weeks," Gainer says. "We did detect HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza) in a couple different spots in Ohio and south of us in Kentucky, so we made the call to play it safe and bring everybody inside."

She says the birds were screened and no virus was detected. They went indoors about two weeks ago.

"Bird Flu is very contagious and if we were to have positive cases in the zoo, it would spread very quickly," Gainer notes. "We have a very big bird collection so it's important that we keep these guys safe."

Some birds like the bald eagles and Andean condors are expected to return to their outdoor enclosures, though birds that normally flock inside during the colder months will likely remain inside, according to Gainer.

It's difficult to know if zookeepers will have to repeat this process again next spring.

"It's hard to detect because it's kind of like the common cold or the flu where it's a different strain every year," Gainer explains. "But hopefully, fingers crossed, we won't have to deal with this again for a few years."

Keepers also had to relocate the outdoor birds in April when the first cases of this strain of avian flu were detected in Ohio. They returned outdoors in May.

The indoor bird habitats remain open to visitors.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.