Russian zoo culls all its birds over avian flu

MOSCOW: A Russian zoo has euthanized its entire bird population after an outbreak of avian flu, local authorities said yesterday. The zoo in the city of Voronezh, some 450 kilometers (280 miles) south of Moscow, was home to species including parrots, eagles, hawks and owls. But it took the drastic step to put down its remaining 141 birds after 35 died from avian flu earlier this month, local authorities said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.

The Voronezh zoo itself declined to comment when contacted by AFP yesterday. A number of European countries have recently taken measures to curb the outbreak of a virulent strain of bird flu sweeping the continent. Authorities in southwest France last week began a cull of hundreds of thousands of ducks used to produce foie gras, a controversial delicacy made from the livers of ducks and geese after force-feeding. The strain of the H5N8 virus has been detected in 17 European countries, according to World Organization for Animal Health-including Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Hungary and Sweden.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed more than 420 people, mainly in southeast Asia, since first appearing in 2003. Another strain of bird flu, H7N9, has claimed more than 200 lives since emerging in 2013, according to World Health Organization figures. There was no word on which bird flu strain had hit the Russian zoo. —AFP

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