N.J. zoo closed for week after 2 animals found dead from bird flu

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Officials announced this week’s closure of the Popcorn Park Animal Refuge in Lacey after a duck and a goose that were discovered dead and later tested positive for bird flu.

According to a statement from the zoo, Popcorn Park was closed to the public on Monday and would be closed until Friday in order to “completely disinfect and control the problem for future exposure.”

To make sure none of its other 200 or so animals become ill, the zoo noted that it was “working closely with the United States Department of Agriculture and the state Department of Agriculture.”

At 11 a.m. on Saturday, Popcorn Park will reopen, assuming the other animals are well.

The 45-year-old Popcorn Park, which is situated in the town’s Forked River neighborhood, takes in wildlife, birds, and exotic creatures that have been abused, abandoned, or otherwise cannot be properly released back into the wild.

Bird flu, or avian influenza, struck New Jersey in August. The state Department of Environmental Protection reports that the H5N1 avian flu strain caused more than 100 black vultures to perish at the Sussex Branch Trail close to Lafayette.

Early this year, due to concerns about avian flu in other parts of the country, portions of the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange and the Cape May County Zoo in Middle Township were closed. At either zoo, no influenza cases were found.

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