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Zoo Seeks to Limit Contact Between Birds and People

Precautions are taken to protect birds from outbreak of a deadly disease in chickens.

January 04, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

The cockatoo's act in the World of Birds show at the Los Angeles Zoo has been curtailed. The raven and the hornbill are out too.

Blame the chickens.

An outbreak of exotic Newcastle disease among poultry in Southern California has zoo officials worried that the virus, which is fatal to birds but harmless to humans, could spread to the zoo's 800 exotic birds.

As a precaution, they announced new measures Friday to limit contact between birds and people.

The zoo's two walk-through flight cages have been closed, and the routines in the World of Birds show, in which zoo guests interact with birds, have been modified.

No longer will the cockatoo fly out to an audience member. Nor will a child be able to hide cans from a raven or throw grapes to a hornbill, said marketing director Lora LaMarca. In addition, the peacocks who roam the grounds are being rounded up to prevent them from catching the disease from zoo guests who might carry it on their shoes or clothes.

"They're really just precautions," LaMarca said.

The San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park have taken similar steps.

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