Lincoln Park Zoo joins zoos across continent moving birds inside amid new bird flu outbreak

Nearly 23M chickens, turkeys have been killed across US to limit spread of the bird flu
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Zoos across North America, including Chicago's very own Lincoln Park Zoo, are moving their birds indoors and away from people and wildlife as they try to protect them from the highly contagious and potentially deadly avian influenza, also known as the bird flu.

The closest cases of the viral infection have been detected in Will County and the zoos are taking no chances.

Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo, Brookfield Zoo and Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa, are among the zoos taking extra precautions.

Penguins may be the only birds visitors to many zoos can see right now, because they already are kept inside and usually protected behind glass in their exhibits.

"It is a deadly virus. Not only can it take the lives of birds, but it can spread very quickly," said Dave Bernier, with the Lincoln Park Zoo.

It's a similar situation at Brookfield Zoo, where the majestic peacocks, geese and other fowl are being kept in holding areas where the zoo's veterinary staff can closely monitor them.

Nearly 23 million chickens and turkeys have already been killed across the United States to limit the spread of the virus.

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State and federal officials are trying to contain an outbreak of highly contagious bird flu on the farm.



Zoos are working hard to prevent any of their birds from meeting the same fate.

During feeding time at All Grass Farms in Dundee, the chicken there roam free and eat an all-natural diet, which farmers believe gives them a strong immune system to help ward off the avian flu.

"They have fresh air all day, tons of space and fresh grass," said Mike Milkowski, with All Grass Farms.

The hens produce a healthy amount of eggs, which add up to about six or seven a week each. However, thanks to the bird flu, most grocery stores are charging more for those eggs.

Economists said prices for eggs are up more than 50% since February -- just in time for Easter when they are in the greatest demand.

"We haven't seen the effect on chickens yet but we expect it will come," said Northwestern University Economics professor Phillip Braun.

Birds spread the virus through droppings and nasal discharge. Experts said it can be spread through contaminated equipment, clothing, boots and vehicles carrying supplies.

While it is deadly to birds, experts said the bird flu strain is not transmissible to humans.

At the zoo, they have a QR code you can scan which takes you to a page that gives you more information about the bird flu. It also says how long these exhibits will be closed.
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