June 21, 2024

Six Amur tigers received booster doses of a COVID vaccine designed for animals at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park near Ashland.

Three exhibits at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium remain closed as officials assess the risk for avian influenza posed by migrating birds.

The Simmons Aviary, Lied Jungle and Desert Dome closed to guests Oct. 14 after two pelicans contracted the illness. The first pelican to contract the illness died. A second became ill and was euthanized.

At the time, officials said exhibits would remain closed for at least 10 days.

The buildings remained closed Tuesday.

The virus is commonly spread through the infected wild birds’ feces, which can make its way into the zoo through birds flying overhead or on people’s shoes.

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Zoo officials said Tuesday that they’re testing feces left by wild birds — mostly geese — around the zoo grounds.

Wild birds have been stopping at the zoo as they migrate south, said Diane Kohout, a zoo spokeswoman. Monday night, five ducks and one goose were spotted. Tuesday morning, she said, that swelled to 50 ducks and 20 geese.

To deter the birds, especially geese, the zoo has put up two inflatable tube men near lagoons. The geese don’t like the erratic movements made by the inflatable tubes.

The first inflatable tube man came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Kohout said. Seeing how effective it was, zoo officials purchased a second.

Zoogoers haven’t batted an eye at the new décor, likely because it blends in with the scores of Halloween decorations already placed along paths and exhibits.