Pensthorpe Natural Park set to reopen after bird flu outbreak

Flamingos in their enclosure at Pensthorpe Natural Park

The flamingos at Pensthorpe Natural Park have been moved to a 'temporary safe environment' after a bird flu outbreak at the reserve - Credit: Richard Brunton

Pensthorpe Natural Park will reopen to visitors tomorrow following a bird flu outbreak - and its much-loved cranes and flamingos have been moved to a "safe environment".

The reserve, near Fakenham, was closed to visitors after a case of highly pathogenic bird flu was confirmed on Saturday.

Veterinary teams have been on the reserve to assess which birds were in the "same epidemiological group" as the infected birds, and therefore needed to be culled to prevent the disease spreading.

Although it has not yet been confirmed how many birds - of which type - will need to be culled, most of the park has now been deemed safe to re-open to the public from Wednesday, February 9.

But its collection of rare and protected birds will remain safely indoors, away from public view, as a result of the Avian Influenza Protection Zone (AIPZ) enforced across the country in November.

Bill and Deb Jordan, owners of Pensthorpe Natural Park

Bill and Deb Jordan, owners of Pensthorpe Natural Park - Credit: Steve Adams

Bill and Deb Jordan, owners of Pensthorpe Natural Park said: "We are delighted to announce that the park will be re-opening to the public. 

“As the health of our birds is of huge importance to us, our collection of birds will continue to remain off show as they have been since the AIPZ was declared in November last year.

"Our flamingos and cranes have also been placed in a temporary safe environment and the Jewson Bridge will be closed to the public until further notice.

“We will continue to monitor our birds and liaise with Defra as their safety is our priority but we are looking forward to welcoming people back to Pensthorpe this week."

"We would also like to take this opportunity to reassure our visitors that bird flu is not harmful to human health.”

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Health agencies advise that although avian influenza is devastating to bird flocks, the risk to human health and food safety is very low.

The Pensthorpe case is the third recorded so far in Norfolk this winter during the UK's largest-ever outbreak of avian influenza.

It follows outbreaks which prompted the culling of poultry at a farm at Pentney, near King's Lynn, and in a small domestic flock at a residential property on the Holkham estate.