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ASHEBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — The North Carolina Zoo announced Thursday that they are closing their Aviary Habitat.

In a media release, the zoo said that the 40-year-old domed structure requires significant repairs due to the humidity within the aviary. Zoo leadership and the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources made the difficult decision to close it.

“For 40 years, the Zoo’s Aviary offered a special place to connect with nature,” said North Carolina Zoo’s 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 housed in the Aviary. They will be relocated to other parts of the NC Zoo or re-homed to other Association of Zoos and Aquariums facitilities.

They are also working on the logistics for removing over 2000 plants of 450 different species from the aviary.

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The release says that no zoo staff will be laid off due to this closure. Staffmembers may be reassigned to other parts of the zoo as plans are developed for changes.

The Aviary has been closed since earlier this year, on January 24, 2022, due to recent threats from 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.

The Zoo plans to take down the building. There are no immediate plans to rebuild the Aviary, and future plans will require further study and budgetary considerations.