While thousands of birds are being culled across Europe because of bird flu, many in zoos and parks are undergoing precautionary checks. This is part of the intensive efforts underway to try to stop the spread of the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus. The European Union is poised to ban all imports of captive wild birds after a parrot from South America died while in quarantine in Britain. Health chiefs meeting in Luxembourg say the ban could initially last a month, while further assessments of the risk of a human pandemic are carried out.
France has joined Germany in ordering farmers to keep all poultry indoors, while the bloc has halted imports of live birds and poultry from Croatia. So far the deadly strain has been confirmed in Russia, Turkey, Romania and the UK. The sale of poultry has fallen dramatically in many countries, despite efforts by governments to reassure consumers that eating cooked meat is not risky. Bird flu is now prevalent across east and southeast Asia, infecting about 120 people, half of whom have died.