Singapore, 22 June 2010 – The Jurong Bird Park remains vigilant in their approach towards H5N1, by conducting annual avian flu (H5N2) vaccinations for the 600 species of birds in their collection. Flamingo Lake exhibit consists of 2 flamingo species, lesser and greater flamingos. Both native to Africa, the lesser flamingos number about 350 while the greater flamingos number about 250.

About 15 people (including 3 vets) were involved in this vaccination procedure for both flamingo species, which took the whole day.

Vaccinating the birds with the H5N2 vaccine increases the birds’ immune system by creating antibodies. With the increase in the immune system, there might be a decrease in mortality when faced with H5N1. Another line of defense against H5N1 lies in the presence of sentinel chickens in the exhibits. Sentinel chickens have no immunity and will fall sick very easily when faced with a disease. They are the first alert in the event of any plausible infection. The blood and faeces of these sentinel chickens are tested monthly for avian influenza.

The Bird Park also organizes annual bird flu drills, which simulate an actual outbreak as preparedness is key.

Keepers shepherd some lesser flamingos through a narrow channel close to shore, for the vets to vaccinate.

A keeper holds on to a lesser flamingo while a vet administers Vitamins A, D and E, which are known anti-oxidants.

Dr Chiharu Okumura, Veterinarian, Jurong Bird Park, administering the H5N2 vaccine to a lesser flamingo.