MICHIGAN CITY–The Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City is closing its bird areas as a precaution against avian flu. 

Zoo officials said Friday afternoon, they learned that positive cases of HPAI – Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza are getting closer to our region. 

The zoo said on its Facebook page, “The proximity of the disease has triggered our zoo to implement its HPAI action plan in order to protect the health of animals and humans. Our Zoo Staff has been closely following reports from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspections and it has been moving across the United States.”

HPAI is a zoonotic disease carried by birds and mainly migratory waterfowl. The zoo says that while this particular strain is not believed to pose a high risk to human health, many zoo animals are susceptible to the disease, including all birds, some mammals, and possibly some reptiles.

The zoo says bird exhibits will be closed to the public until further notice. Many of the birds have been moved to indoor habitats, while others have received habitat modifications to prevent contact with wild birds.

Animal care staff will use personal protective equipment while caring for the birds at the zoo.

“Avian influenza – commonly called “bird flu” – is a viral infection that occurs naturally in birds. Wild birds can carry the virus but may not always get sick from it. Some domesticated birds such as chickens, ducks, and turkeys can become infected, often fatally. Although it is possible for humans to become infected with avian influenza, the CDC states that the virus does not spread easily from animals to humans.”