How the Bird Flu Threat Is Affecting Zoos in Illinois and Wisconsin
Last week I went with my oldest daughter's class on a field trip to Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin. I have been to this zoo several times, and we again enjoyed a great day with all the fabulous animals, but I did notice a few major changes during my latest trip.
"The Birds Have COVID"
Those are the exact words my daughter Ella said to me as we were getting ready to leave for the field trip to Henry Vilas Zoo. Actually, what she really said was; "just so you know Mommy, my teacher said we can't see any birds at the zoo because they all have COVID". Well, it turns out Ella was mistaken, the zoo's birds don't have COVID, but they are off-limits to visitors because of the highly contagious avian influenza (HPAI), aka, Bird Flu.
Temporary Changes At Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin
While the threat of HPAI is still high, the Aviary at Henry Vilas Zoo will remain closed to visitors, and you won't see any of the zoo's penguins, cranes, flamingos, or chickens out in their exhibits either. Although this might be bummer news for you and me, the bird species at Henry Vilas Zoo are doing just fine in safekeeping...
FYI, if you are planning a trip to Henry Vilas Zoo sometime soon, there are still a TON of cool animals to see, but if you're hoping to see the zoo's resident sloth named Slothra, she lives in the Aviary and can't accept visitors at this time. (It took us about 3 hours of walking around the zoo to finally ask a staff member where she was).
Is The Bird Flu Threat Affecting Other Zoos Too?
I went on a quick search of the most popular zoos in this area to see if their exhibits have been affected by the bird flu threat too, and here is what I found...
All bird exhibits at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois are closed until further notice, and so is the Children's Zoo area...
I could not find any aviary or exhibit closures due to HPAI listed on Brookfield Zoo or Milwaukee County Zoo's websites, but it might be a good idea to make a quick phone call to these zoos if you want to know for sure before you go.