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Bird Garden reopens tomorrow

    The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department today (July 4) announced that the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden in Mong Kok would reopen tomorrow following an 18-day-long testing and observation period and that a new set of licensing conditions would be launched for pet bird traders.

     None of the 330 swab samples, including faecal samples from shops and environmental samples, collected from the Bird Garden since June 17 were H5N1 positive after a series of laboratory tests. During the period of closure, all birds in the pet bird shops in the Bird Garden were closely observed for health and clinical symptoms of avian influenza.

     In announcing the reopening, the department's Assistant Director Dr Thomas Sit said the department was satisfied with the birdsˇ¦ health conditions and the sanitation of the Bird Garden, including the public area and the pet bird shops, where thorough cleansing had been conducted.

     Before the reopening, all shops and the relevant departments, including the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, had jointly launched the first monthly cleaning day for the garden which was today for July.  

     Dr Sit said a new set of licensing conditions would also be becoming effective starting from today to regulate pet bird trading, both inside and outside the Bird Garden, ensuring that all birds kept in the licensed premises were from approved sources.

     The department had completed a territory-wide survey of pet bird shops and recorded all their stocks, leaving no room for sale of birds if their origins could not be accounted for.

     ˇ§From now on, pet birds in any licensed premises are either legally imported from known sources with valid health certificates, or acquired from other licensed traders with supportive documentation, such as invoices and sale receipts detailing the species, quantity, date of transaction and sources,ˇ¨Dr Sit said.

     ˇ§Traders must produce these documents to Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department officers for inspection when requested. The traders are also required to keep an up-to-date detailed record of bird transactions in a prescribed account format with dates, entries of new stocks, sales and bird movement to show the balance of the bird stock in the register at any one time.ˇ¨

     ˇ§In case birds are expected to be hatched from eggs being laid by birds in the shop, the licensee must report to us before hatching occurs and seek the departmentˇ¦s consent before the birds are to be put on sale.ˇ¨

     Under the new conditions, trading in birds from clients for display and sale on behalf of the clients or any persons other than licensed animal traders is prohibited.

     Department officers would continue to monitor the Bird Garden closely and ensure that the new licensing conditions were strictly followed, Dr Sit said.

     The Bird Garden was closed on June 17 after H5N1 virus was detected in a faecal sample collected from a Durian Starling that had been kept in a pet bird shop there.

     To relieve their financial hardship during the temporary closure, the government will provide the 68 shop owners in the Bird Garden with a one-off ex-gratia payment of $10,000 each as well as a one-month rental waiver.

Ends/Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Issued at HKT 17:10


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