Rockhampton Zoo's dome aviary. Picture: Contributed
Rockhampton Zoo's dome aviary. Picture: Contributed

Birds to be euthanised after testing positive for salmonella

Birds in the Rockhampton Zoo’s dome aviary will be euthanised by a qualified vet after testing positive for salmonella.

It is believed the disease entered the enclosure through transmission by rodents or wild birds which often land on top of the dome.

As a precaution, the aviary was closed to the public until further notice.

Zoo director Liz Bellward said the aviary’s closure was part of a number of precautionary steps which commenced as soon as some of the birds showed signs of illness.

Ms Bellward said she was confident the outbreak had been contained to the dome, which she credited to the staff and early safety measures.

She said the next step would include fully treating the dome.

“Removing and replacing soil, treating all hard surfaces, trimming back trees and implementing some form of barrier to stop wild birds landing on the top of the dome as an additional precaution,” she said.

While the outbreak had been contained to the dome, Ms Bellward said it had led to a heartbreaking outcome.

“After consultation with numerous vets and avian experts, given the potential suffering of the birds, the trauma of treatment, and the possible reoccurring outbreaks, the most humane decision for the birds was for them to be euthanised,” she said.

“Although salmonella can be treated in birds, the process itself is extremely traumatic and the stress would most likely result in a number of the birds passing.

“Even if the birds survived the treatment, some of the birds may remain carriers of the disease which means we could experience repeated outbreaks. This also makes rehoming the birds unviable.

“We have worked through every possible alternative with experts and unfortunately this is what we believe to be the best option.”

Councillor for Sports, Parks and Public Spaces, Cherie Rutherford, said it would be an incredibly tough time for both the keepers who care for the animals, and the community who love the zoo.

“Our zoo staff pour their heart and souls into caring for these animals and it is awful to be in the position that we’re in,” she said.

“Improvements in the area will ensure that the risk of reoccurrence is low.

“The zoo has council’s full support in making this tremendously difficult decision and I know the community will also feel this deeply as we lose these much-loved animals.

“I want to assure everyone that we have explored all other options before going down this path.”



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