Foot-and-mouth disease threat prompts Melbourne Zoo to restrict access to elephants, giraffes and kangaroos

Melbourne Zoo will restrict visitor access to the giraffes, elephants and kangaroos amid fears of a potential foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in Australia.

Concerns are high following an outbreak in tourist hotspot Bali.

Last night Zoos Victoria, which runs the Melbourne and Werribee zoos and Healesville Sanctuary, sent a message to members announcing the elephant enclosure’s public pathway would be closed out of an “abundance of caution”.

The message said the measures were intended to lower the risk of animals coming into contact with “soil that could have potentially been brought in from outside the zoo grounds”.

Giraffe, kangaroo and elephant “animal encounters”, where tourists and local visitors pay to spend time up close with certain animals, will be “temporality unavailable”.

“We’ve been watching very closely the outbreak and … we’ve decided to increase some of the protection levels for our animals,” Zoos Victoria chief executive Jenny Gray told the ABC.

“We have a number of susceptible animals in our care.”

Elephants in a zoo area.
The Trail of the Elephants at Melbourne Zoo will be closed to the public.(Supplied: Zoos Victoria)

Hoofed animals most vulnerable

Dr Gray said hoofed animals such as giraffes, antelopes, elephants and pig species were most at risk.

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