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Community Updates: Friday, July 8

John Ball Zoo announces the return of some of its birds after a HPAI quarantine; volunteers build two new bouldering walls at Highland Park in Grand Rapids; and more
A body of water visible between greenery at Millennium Park

A body of water visible between greenery at Millennium Park /Ann-Marie Jurek

John Ball Zoo Announces the Return of Some of its Birds After A HPAI Quarantine

Earlier this year, both Canada and the United States saw an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) among its avian populations -- particularly "in wild birds, backyard flocks, commercial poultry facilities, and wild mammals." As winter turned into spring and many birds began to migrate northwards, concerns about HPAI continued to grow in Michigan. Once news of a confirmed HPAI case in Kalamazoo reached Grand Rapids, John Ball Zoo (JBZ) made the decision to quarantine its birds until Dr. Ryan Colburn, the Zoo Veterinarian, deemed it safe for them to be outside.

On Wednesday, a few months after the initial quarantine was announced, John Ball Zoo reported (via a Facebook post) that none of its feathered residents had contracted HPAI. Additionally, some species had been cleared to "return to their outdoor habitats" and receive visits from JBZ patrons. Among those allowed to return are the toucans, Egyptian geese, pied crows, and barn/snowy owls. However, per John Ball Zoo's website, a number of other birds (such as the flamingos) will remain inside over concerns that they may be more vulnerable to infection. The zoo is keeping a close eye on the HPAI situation in Michigan and will release the rest of the birds from their quarantine once Dr. Colburn has determined that it is safe to do so. "Each group of birds and each habitat are being evaluated individually so that birds can return to those habitats when the risk level drops," the website states. "We hope to see birds gradually returning to their habitats over the next several weeks."


Volunteers Build Two New Bouldering Walls at Highland Park in Grand Rapids

This week, the City of Grand Rapids (in partnership with the Grand Rapids Boulder Project) reported that two new climbing walls had been built at Highland Park on the northeastern side of the city. According to a statement published on Thursday afternoon, construction on the walls began earlier this year (in April), but the discussion about bringing no-cost rock climbing to Grand Rapids goes all the way back to 2017. A team of volunteers led the process of raising the walls at Highland Park, individuals driven by a desire to improve their community and share their love of rock climbing with their neighbors. Members of the public are now able to use the bouldering walls, which are planned to stay in that location for three to five years. 

A "grand opening celebration" will be held from 9:00am to 2:00pm on Saturday, July 9 at Highland Park. The event will be organized by both the Grand Rapids Boulder Project and the City of Grand Rapids Parks & Recreation Department and will feature a number of activities -- including a ribbon cutting, climbing competition, and refreshments. For more information, visit the Grand Rapids Boulder Project's Facebook post here.


Also in the News:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency, along with the City of Grand Rapids and Home Repair Services of Kent County, are planning to hold a lead-safety training session for contractors on Thursday, July 28. For more information, visit the city's website here.


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