Approximately 10 months after making their debut in June of 2021 at Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden on Evansville's west side, the Penguins of Patagonia were taken out of their outdoor exhibit and moved indoors for the past nine months. That quarantine ended on Wednesday with an announcement from the Zoo that it would be returning the newest additions to its family of wildlife creatures to their outside habitat.

Why the Penguins of Patagonia Were in "Quarantine"

The word, "quarantine" is one we're all too familiar with thanks to COVID, and one most of us probably don't ever want to hear again, but it applies here. While the penguins weren't exposed to COVID, there was concern they could be exposed to something with the potential to be just as deadly. The same thing responsible for the rising cost of eggs over the past several months — H5N1 Avian Flu, a.k.a. "bird flu."

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Way back on April 28th, 2022, the Zoo announced on Facebook that a case of H5N1 had been "detected within an uncomfortable proximity to our Zoo." While they didn't specify just how close it was, it was close enough for them to take precautions and move not only the penguins indoors, but also the raptors, cranes, ostriches, and emus in their care. They also closed the free-flight aviary portion of Amazonia.

At the time, the Zoo said the birds would be kept in isolation for four weeks, but that the timeframe would be extended if deemed necessary. And extended it was. For months.

Fast forward to December 14th of last year when the Zoo once again announced on Facebook that H5N1 cases had been detected in both Gibson and Daviess Counties. That reset the quarantine period to another four-week minimum.

On Wednesday, the quarantine was lifted and officials with the zoo announced through a video message the penguins would be allowed to return to their outdoor exhibit where they can once again be viewed by the public.

For information on hours and admission prices, visit the Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden website.

[Source: Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden on Facebook]

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