• Kyodo

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The Environment Ministry said Wednesday that a highly pathogenic, H5N6-type avian influenza virus was detected in a dead northern goshawk found earlier this month at a park in Tokyo’s Ota Ward.

The news prompted the Tokyo Zoological Park Society, which manages four public zoos, including Ueno Zoo in Taito Ward, to halt their displays of rare or vulnerable avian species.

The ministry raised its warning to a Level 3 — its highest level — from the previous Level 2 warning issued following reports of other bird flu cases in the western part of the country over the past few months. If more dead wild birds are found they will conduct more detailed examinations, the ministry said.

This winter the highly pathogenic bird flu virus has been found so far in birds in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, in November last year, and at a poultry farm in Kagawa Prefecture earlier this month. Authorities in the prefecture culled about 92,000 chickens on Jan. 12, the day the highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza was detected.

At Ueno Zoo, viewing of non-avian animals — including the six-month old female panda cub, Xiang Xiang — will be unaffected.

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