Safari Park Flock Receives Avian Vaccine

The flock of small parrots living in the Lorikeet Landing habitat of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park are back in their aviary and ready to greet guests beginning on Sunday, February 22. The aviary was closed and the group of nectar-feeding birds has been residing in a behind-the-scenes enclosure as animal care staff undertook thorough medical exams and an upgrade to the habitat.

Photo by Ion Moe

Photo by Ion Moe

Twenty out of the flock of 60 birds received both an oral and injectable vaccine at the hospital over the last couple of days. The remainder will be vaccinated soon. The newly developed vaccine, technically an autogenous bacterin, was administered with the hopes that it will help protect the birds from future effects of salmonella infections.

“We recently lost some birds to salmonella.” Said Bruce Rideout, DVM, Ph.D, Director of the wildlife disease laboratories for San Diego Zoo Global. “Although unfortunate, we were able to use this loss to take biological samples necessary for isolating the bacteria. These samples became the basis for the vaccine.”

To develop the vaccine Safari Park veterinarians collaborated with scientists at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine Infectious Disease Lab. Bacteria isolated from infected birds at the Safari Park were inactivated and provided the basis for vaccine development. Vaccinations are an important part of the effort to conserve species both in zoos and in the wild and are a tool that becomes particularly important when facing the threat of an emerging disease or a disease (like West Nile Virus) that has newly arrived in a location.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.