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North Carolina Zoo permanently closing Aviary Habitat

The glass panes in the Forest Aviary at the North Carolina zoo need replacement, according to Zoo officials.
Courtesy of the North Carolina Zoo

The North Carolina Zoo is permanently closing its Aviary Habitat.

The reason for ther closure of the 40-year-old domed structure is that it requires significant repairs because of the effects of high humidity and wet conditions, according to a Thursday release from the zoo.

The building will be taken down and there are no immediate plans to rebuild. Future plans will require further study and budgetary considerations.

"For 40 years, the Zoo's Aviary offered a special place to connect with nature," said North Carolina Zoo Director Pat Simmons. "The free-flying birds and tropical plants served as an oasis for many people - guests and staff alike. It was a heart-wrenching decision to close the Aviary; however, safety is our highest priority.”

There are 93 birds of 33 species that are in the process of being relocated to other parts of the zoo or rehomed at other Association of Zoos and Aquariums facilities.

More than 2,000 plants of 450 species live in the Aviary. The zoo is working on logistics for removing the plant collections.

The closure of the habitat will not result in staff losing their jobs. Some may be reassigned elsewhere in the zoo as plans are developed for changes in the animal and plant collections.

"It is truly an immersive habitat, and guests often remarked that they felt as though they were really in a tropical forest. To hear the swoosh of a Victoria Crowned Pigeon as it flies by is magical," said Debbie Zombeck, the zoo's curator of birds. "To watch the birds' natural behaviors as they forage for food, build nests and raise their young made the Aviary a must-see destination in the state."

The Aviary has been closed since earlier this year due to recent threats from the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). The virus is a highly contagious disease that can affect several species of birds. None of the zoo's birds have tested positive for the virus.

The decision to close the habitat was made by zoo leadership and the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

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