Berlin’s main zoo was just closed because the H5N1 virus was confirmed in the carcass of an anvilhead. In cooperation with the authorities, Zoo Berlin’s management reacted immediately.
Berlin, November 18th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — Anvilheads are nice wading birds. They get up to 56 centimeters (22 inches) tall. One of them died on November 13th at Zoo Berlin. Its carcass was checked by the State Laboratory Berlin-Brandenburg and rechecked elsewhere. The result: The dead bird was infected with H5N1, a virus also known as the bird flu.
As soon as the result was known on Friday, Zoo Berlin was closed until further notice. The decision was taken by the zoo management in cooperation with veterinarians, zookeepers and the district office in Berlin’s Mitte district. That way, a further dissemination is supposed to be prevented. It is unclear when the zoo will reopen. During the first part of the Corona pandemic, it had to be closed several times. Now, another virus is the reason.
According to a statement sent out by the management, the measure is supposed to make sure visitors do not spread the bird flu by walking around with bird feces on their shoes or clothing. It is unclear whether other animals caught it too. There are a total of 20,000 animals at Zoo Berlin, including birds, fish, crocodiles, snakes, spiders, feline predators and many others.
Because the bird flu appeared a few times in the past years, routine checks are performed on birds when they die. One of those was done on the anvilhead.
Christian Kern, the Zoologic Director at both Zoo Berlin and Tierpark Berlin, said he and his people had reacted immediately “with extensive quarantine measures”. According to him, all birds, including penguins and raptorial birds, had been moved to their indoor cages. Kern stated no other birds showed symptoms right now, but all of them would be tested.
Zookeepers who deal with birds now wear protective clothing. External experts will now be called in to assess the general situation at Zoo Berlin, which is located right in Berlin’s western city center. A risk analysis would be done, the zoo announced.
Other zoos have had bird flu outbreaks as well, namely those in Greifswald, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, in the Maintal region and in Rostock. Zoo Berlin belonged to former West Berlin. The Tierpark in the former eastern part is more of a park with animals. Visitors who want to see them need to walk a lot.