The three trumpeter swans at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo were removed from public display last week to protect them from an increase of avian influenza that is sweeping across the country, Zookeeper Sara Hamlin said. Meanwhile, the zoo’s alligators have been moved to their fall/winter quarters.
The swans are in an outdoor area with a stock tank, but behind a privacy fence. This will make them easy to catch if the zoo staff hears of migrating birds in the area that might pose a threat.
Swanson and Bella hatched a baby swan – or cygnet – on July 7. The adult swans will return to the zoo pond after fall migration. “The baby is being sent to the Emporia zoo next week so that it could be a companion for their swan,” Hamlin said.
The birds have all been checked by the veterinarians and are healthy. Although this type of influenza rarely infects humans, it is highly communicable through the avian species. Therefore, zookeepers followed an emergency action plan on the advice of the state veterinarian.
“The Trumpeters at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo are a breeding pair, so they are very valuable, and because they are endangered we want to keep them as safe as possible,” Hamlin commented.
The zoo is also temporarily stopping the sale of the bags of feed that the public can share with other birds on the ponds. The reason is because the activity attracts wild birds, and that puts local birds at a higher risk of meeting infected ones.
Hamlin said feeding the birds is a popular activity for zoo visitors and will resume after the fall migration. “On behalf of all the zookeepers, we appreciate your understanding and we will keep everyone up to date on our Facebook page, Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo.”
For more information on the avian influenza visit http://agriculture.ks.gov/…/animal-disease-…/avian-influenza.
On Wednesday the zookeepers caught the two American alligators, so they could be moved inside for the winter. Zookeepers posted a message on the Facebook page, noting over the summer, Alvin and Allister grew 11 and 7 inches, respectively. Visitors won’t be able to view them in their winter house but they’ll be back on the pond in the spring.