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Zoos increase preventative measures as avian flu cases continue

The Tropical Rainforest exhibit at Roger Williams Park Zoo{ } is temporarily closed to protect the animals from avian flu. (WJAR)
The Tropical Rainforest exhibit at Roger Williams Park Zoo is temporarily closed to protect the animals from avian flu. (WJAR)
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The avian flu has flown into Connecticut and Massachusetts, but Rhode Island has still managed to stay clear.

Roger Williams Park Zoo is one of many nationwide stepping up precautions to protect their birds.

Warmer weather means more field trips and visits to the zoo.

RWPZ Senior Veterinarian Kimberlee Wojick said they put several steps in place.

"We started with just increasing biosecurity, and that's footbaths, handwashing, and in some instances changing our clothes before we go into bird areas," said Wojick. "The step after that was moving our more susceptible bird species off of exhibit."

That means no chickens, turkeys, or peacocks outside.

Visitors can still see the ostriches, flamingos, and ravens.

They have a special netting to protect them.

Two bald eagles tested positive for the flu in Maine, so raptors were also taken inside.

Jasmine Robinson visited the zoo with her sons.

"The flamingos are pretty fun to watch. They are chill, but they get a little excited with each other," said Robinson. "But we're happy to see that the zoo is taking precautions to keep the animals safe."

It is easy to track the flu in the zoo and with so many people headed over, the zoo has to keep the birds indoors for the time being.

Robinson said there may be disappointment from not seeing the birds, but it's for the good of the animals.

"We always want to make sure that the animals are safe. That's why the zoo is here to give us an experience to be with wildlife," said Robinson. "But we also need to be respectful of the wildlife."

Wojick said they do not anticipate the flu staying around for long.

"As we hit summer, that's going to be after the migration season of birds has passed things are going to get warmer," said Wojick. "The virus doesn't like to live in the heat, so we're hoping that we'll be able to get those birds back out on the exhibit shortly."

The Tropical Rainforest exhibit is closed for now.

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