Confirmed case of bird flu in Bishops Waltham closes part of Marwell Zoo

The park said it has closed some areas temporarily to reduce the risk of contact between visitors and birds Credit: Marwell Wildlife Park

Parts of Marwell Zoo in Hampshire have been closed after a case of bird flu was confirmed in Bishops Waltham.

The wildlife park said it's taking precautionary measures to protect its birds from avian influenza an prevent any possible spread of the virus.

The zoo, which is located near Winchester, is currently outside the declared protection zone but within a 10km radius surveillance zone.

Although the zoo is currently free of the virus, park managers say strict measures have been taken in accordance with national legislation and guidance to help prevent any potential spread of the disease.

It's another blow for the wildlife park, which was forced to close for a total of nine months during the Covid pandemic.

Marwell Zoo’s Chief Executive James Cretney, said: “This couldn’t have come at a worse time for us.

"Just as we’re trying to get back on our feet for what we hoped would be the first normal year since 2019, we learned that like many other businesses, we are now part of an Avian Influenza Surveillance Zone following a confirmed case in Bishops Waltham.

“Whilst the welfare of our large bird collection is a priority, this will no doubt be disappointing news for many of our guests. We thank all our guests and members for their support and hope they will continue to visit us during this time.

He added, “Marwell is home to more than 140 exotic and endangered species and over 2,500 animals, so there’s lots to see.

"Please do be mindful, however, that it is winter and our animals have the freedom to choose where they are throughout the day, so it may be they are indoors, where most are still viewable.

"We advise our guests to consider Marwell to be like a walking safari and to spend 4-5 hours exploring our 140 acre park, giving them the best opportunity to see the animals.”

Marwell is home to critically endangered species such as blue-crowned laughing thrushes and swift parrots in addition to birds such as Humboldt penguins and flamingos.

Marwell’s Veterinary Services Manager Dr Sarah Jayne Smith, said, “You will notice that some areas of the zoo are temporarily closed, to reduce the risk associated with contact between people and our birds.

“Additional hand sanitisers, foot mats and foot dips have been put in place at all entrance points to the zoo.

"If you see one of these on your journey through the zoo, please use it.

"If you keep captive birds at home, who are usually outdoors, please postpone your visit to us.”  

Marwell's walk-through aviaries have been closed to the public

The zoo has temporarily closed its Energy for Life: Tropical House and walkthrough aviaries to the public.

Extra precautions have also been taken to reduce contact with wild birds.

Visitors are being urged to book online while the zoo continues to restrict numbers.