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Zoo News – December 2023

11th January, 2024

There was lots of festive fun happening in our zoo throughout December! We took part in BIAZA Secret Santa and the animals enjoyed some Christmas themed enrichment.

Globally, conservation hit an incredible milestone. Also, every bird in our collection was successfully vaccinated against Avian influenza.

Avian influenza vaccinations

During December, over the course of two days, our zookeepers and our vet undertook a large task of vaccinating all the birds held within our collection. This spanned from an emu and eagles, to guineafowls.

Every bird was successfully vaccinated against Avian influenza. To prioritise the welfare of our animals, vaccinations were carried out through positive reinforcement training, where possible.

“Avian influenza, aka bird flu, is a contagious and often fatal viral disease of birds. There is a constant risk of Avian influenza being introduced into Ireland from wild birds particularly from October onwards each year as this is when migratory birds arrive.

There are two types of Avian influenza which are named according to the impact that the disease can have on birds:

  • Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI): can have up to 100 % mortality in affected flocks.
  • Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI): generally, causes mild disease in affected birds.” (

Following the vaccinations, a vet from the Department of Agriculture is due to visit the park and record the health status of each of bird in our collection. Avian influenza does not only affect birds, but has also been noted to affect humans and mammals. Along with these vaccinations, other biosecurity measures have been put in place to minimise the risk of cross contamination from wild birds within our zoo.

Flying at the World of Raptors exhibit at Emerald Park is a snowy owl.

Conservation in action

An incredible milestone

The scimitar-horned oryx was once classified as ‘extinct in the wild’, and now they have been downlisted to an ‘endangered’ species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Classified as ‘extinct in the wild’, means that they solely survived under human care such as within zoos. However, now following decades of conservation efforts, a herd of 600 oryx live in their native country of Chad.

Global conservation initiatives supported by multiple zoos, have enabled this amazing recovery for the species! However, there is still more work to do as the world faces a biodiversity crisis and numerous species remain at the risk of being lost, but it is an optimistic start!

BIAZA Secret Santa

Each year, the zoo department gets involved in BIAZA Secret Santa. This is a great initiative run by BIAZA between all the zoos and aquariums throughout Britain and Ireland, to build connections and good spirit during the holiday season. This year, we sent our Secret Santa to Blackpool Zoo (check out their Reel on Instagram to see what they got!). The theme of this year’s Secret Santa was for the gifts to be food related. Our zookeepers got creative and sent over different puzzle feeders for the animals but also some treats for the hardworking zookeeping staff to enjoy!

BIAZA Secret Santa

📸 Sophie S

Christmas at the park

As December rolled around, we knew Santa would soon be visiting the park and our zookeepers got the animals in the festive spirit! They wanted to make sure all our animals enjoyed some Christmas themed enrichment.

Lemurs on a Merry Christmas box

a goeddi's monkey at a small cardboard Christmas tree

📸 Emma B

That’s a wrap for 2023, thanks for reading!

Check back in 2024 for more updates.

The Emerald Park Zoo Team