The death of a zoo animal, an Australian black swan, in Germany following infection with avian influenza virus has created shock waves among animal-lovers.
So far bird flu had only killed wild animals and farm poultry in Germany. Therefore the death of the Australian black swan at Dresden Zoo in eastern Germany has raised fears that animal collections created over a century or more to might be decimated by the H5N1 virus.
The bird was found floating dead on a zoo pond on Tuesday. Zoo biologist Roland Brockmann said, "Black swans die quite often, so at first we weren't so worried." However lab tests confirmed the cause of death as infection due to the deadly H5N1 virus late Thursday.
The last bird flu case in Germany took place nearly three months ago. The disease spreads just like like human flu during when the weather is cold and wet.
Following the report Dresden Zoo has quarantined other black swans on Friday. They have also demanded government clearance to vaccinate the rest of the birds in the zoo collection against bird flu. The zoo has 720 birds of 112 species.
According to Brockmann wild birds that stayed on the ponds last winter must have brought the virus into the zoo. Fears that other species, such as the lions, might eat dead birds and become infected exist among the staff at the zoo.
After being assured that the virus does not spread through the air, visitors continued to tour the zoo on Friday.