ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Abilene Zoo Bird Rehabilitation Center doors are open for new intakes, after closing due to High Path Avian Influenza (HPAI).

Clayton Carabajal, Communications and Conservation Supervisor for the zoo, told KTAB/KRBC any bird infected by HPAI would have posed an immediate threat to the zoo’s birds.

On October 5, the zoo stopped the intake of new patients to the Bird Rehabilitation Center in response to the deadly infection. Carabajal said the safety of the team and animals is the zoo’s highest priority.

Shortly after closing the doors, the first case of the bird flu at the Abilene Zoo was reported. Carabajal said the zoo suspected that a bird migrating for winter brought HPAI to the Rehabilitation Center.

Carabajal said the animal management team feels confident reopening the Center with special protocols to prevent new intakes from possibly exposing the virus once again. Alongside increased safety protocols like protective equipment and sanitation, a designated rehabilitator who’s has no contact with the rest of the bird population will come each day to treat new birds.

“The service our Rehabilitation Center offers the feathered wildlife of Texas is extremely important,” Carabajal explained. “I know that we have all the checkpoints in place to help wildlife and keep the birds of the Abilene Zoo safe.”

While many birds that were kept inside during this outbreak have returned to their outdoor habitats, some birds will continue to stay indoors. Some of these are the waterfowls and flamingos, who are more susceptible to the bird flu.

Guests who want to bring in sick or injured birds can find more information on the Abilene Zoos website.