Diseases: Waterfowl with bird flu: Berlin Zoo closed

Water bird with bird flu: Berlin Zoo closed

Notice at the closed entrance gate to the Berlin Zoo. photo

© Monika Skolimowska/dpa

Locked gate instead of fluttering birds: The Berlin Zoo was evacuated on Friday because of bird flu. How long he will stay is unclear. At least there is a small consolation for animal fans.

The visit of many people to the Berlin Zoo ended abruptly on Friday. Because of a bird flu case, the zoo was cleared and is now closed – for how long is still unclear.

Employees asked the visitors to leave the site in the afternoon. The blinds at the cash registers were then lowered, and the locked entrance gate read: “A bird from Berlin Zoo tested positive for bird flu, so the site will remain closed to guests as a precaution.”

A hammerhead died

A water bird is affected, more precisely a hammerhead. He had already died on Sunday, the zoo said – now the laboratory has reported a positive result for bird flu. The “Tagesspiegel” was the first to report. Since the virus has also been appearing more frequently in Central Europe for several years, there have been repeated random examinations of dead animals.

Almost all birds, including the penguins, were placed in rear aviaries and stables. “Fortunately, no other animal shows the corresponding symptoms of the disease,” said the zoological director of Zoo und Tierpark Berlin, Christian Kern. They would still be tested for the virus.

The employees entrusted with the care of birds wear protective clothing to prevent the virus from being spread, it said. The veterinary authority had ordered the animal population in the Zoological Garden to be blocked. As a precaution, Tierpark Berlin has also started to bring the majority of the birds into stables.

Deadly threat to bird populations

The so-called avian influenza is known as bird flu or avian influenza. The virus behind it is called H5N1. So far, it has only been linked to infections in humans in isolated cases. However, it can easily spread in bird populations – for them it is a mortal danger. According to the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI), not all bird species are equally affected – pigeons seem to be less susceptible. However, in principle, different mammals could also become infected.

According to a dpa reporter, the aviary and the penguin house were already closed at noon.

“A precautionary closure of the entire zoo grounds is an important step in this situation, until we have a better overview of the situation,” said the Senate Department for Consumer Protection. The primary goal is to prevent the spread of avian influenza.

Not the first closure

According to the FLI, zoos in Germany have already been closed due to bird flu. This is one of the “initial measures” in a case in a zoo, it said. According to this, there have been two cases of bird flu in zoo birds across Germany within the past 28 days – one in North Rhine-Westphalia and one in Bavaria.

So now Berlin has been hit too. It was not initially known how long people in Berlin would have to do without pandas and the like. “We are currently unable to make any statements about the duration of the closure – we simply don’t know at the moment,” said a spokeswoman on request. Until then, visitors will have to be content with the animals in the aquarium – according to the notice, this remains open for the time being.


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