For Release: April 9, 2004
Peper Long, National Zoo 202-673-0206; 202-673-0209
Alan Etter, D.C. Fire Dept. 202-345-6371
National Zoo Bird House Reopens
The National Zoo’s Bird House reopened to the public Friday morning at 10 a.m. The exhibit had been closed since Wednesday, April 7, due to a fire in the nearby Wetlands exhibit. The Bird House was not damaged in the fire. New signs will direct visitors along a paved road to the Bird House, which is perched on a hill.
The D.C. Fire Department is investigating the fire; its cause is still undetermined.
There were no injuries to staff and there were no animal fatalities from the fire, which was discovered at 5:45 a.m. Wednesday. All 134 birds and seven turtles in the Wetlands exhibit were accounted for by Zoo staff. Three ducks that were under observation for possible smoke inhalation are now doing well, and have been released from Zoo veterinarians’ care.
The fire caused an estimated $285,000 in damage—most of that was to a wooden bridge and walkway. Other damages included shelters and heaters underneath the walkway, which protected birds from cold weather; bubblers to keep the ponds from freezing; vegetation; and exhibit signs.
The Wetlands area housed a diverse population of waterfowl in several open, outdoor ponds traversed by boardwalks. It included brown pelicans, white storks, black-necked swans, turtles and several species of duck. Most of the animals were moved from the burned Wetlands exhibit to ponds off-exhibit, where they will remain until repairs have been made.
The Zoo had planned to renovate and redesign the Wetlands area; that planning will now be accelerated.
# # #