The Cape May Zoo issued a statement Thursday saying it was closing its 'World of Birds' aviary to the public effective immediately.

The zoo is concerned about the emergence of a newly discovered Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza strain spreading along the East Coast.

Close to South Jersey, cases of the influenza strain were detected this week in wild birds in Delaware.

According to a report from the State of Delaware, Avian influenza (AI), commonly known as “bird flu,” is a respiratory disease of birds caused by an influenza Type A virus.

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These viruses can infect poultry, such as chickens, ducks, and turkeys, and some wild bird species like ducks, swans, geese, and shorebirds, but are known to impact poultry and wild birds in different ways.

While wild birds often can carry the AI viruses without becoming sick, AI in poultry is contagious and can make some domesticated birds very sick and even cause death.

Cape May Zoo is quick to point out that none of the zoo's birds have been affected with bird flu thus far, but they aren't taking any chances.

There have been no cases of Avian Influenza at the Zoo but we are carrying out mitigation efforts to protect our birds. Many new Biosecurity measures have been implemented such as closing the aviary to the public, and strict quarantine protocols for other species of birds under our care.

Cape May Zoo says this new strain of Avian Influenza does not pose a health threat to the public, and it is not associated with the COVID-19 virus.

If you have pet birds or backyard poultry, the zoo recommends that you consider ways to try and protect your animals.

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