North Carolina Zoo announces permanent aviary habitat closure

A bird at the aviary habitat at the North Carolina Zoo. Image via NC Zoo

ASHEBORO — The North Carolina Zoo announced it would permanently close its aviary habitat on Thursday. First built in the early 1980s, the 40-year-old domed structure requires significant repairs due to the effects of high humidity and wet conditions, according to the NC Zoo. The decision to close and take down the habitat was made by the Zoo leadership and the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

“For 40 years, the Zoo’s aviary offered a special place to connect with nature,” said NC 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 (AZA) facilities. More than 2,000 plants of 450 species currently live in the aviary. Staff will be offered reassignment elsewhere at the Zoo as plans are developed for changes in the animal and plant collections.

The Aviary has been closed for over two months due to the threat of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). The HPAI 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.