Bird Garden back in business after flu scare
Mong Kok's Bird Garden was open for business for the first time in three weeks yesterday following its closure amid a bird flu scare.
Stall owners at the market in Yuen Po Street could not estimate how much business they had lost, but said they were happy with the HK$12,000 compensation from the government.
Leung Yin-chun, whose 1,000 birds were destroyed after health officials found the H5N1 virus in her shop, said she had cleaned the store carefully every day, and criticised the government for overreacting. The virus was found in a cage holding oriental magpie robins in Leung's shop.
Yesterday she had only cages to sell because the replacement birds she ordered had not arrived. The slaughtered birds were worth up to HK$4,000 each, she said.
'The government sets the rules and we can only play by them. We have no say and there's nothing we can do,' said Leung, who has been in the business for 27 years. 'I clean the cages every day and I treat the birds very well, like my family members.'
Wong Tak-leung, who has a stall across from Leung's, said the closure cost him an extra HK$400 to HK$500 a day because he had to travel to the market to feed his birds. 'It's worse than being put in prison. We need to come back every day to feed the birds, but can't do any business,' he said.
He found the HK$12,000 compensation reasonable, and suspected the virus came from a wild bird.
Ralynn Shrader, a US tourist, said she was not worried about the virus. 'I'm healthy,' the 66-year-old said.
She was on a tour with three other people, and was visiting the garden to learn more about the city's culture.
A Mr Cheung, 80, said he visited the market once or twice a week to chat with friends. He went there yesterday, taking one of his four birds, to meet friends he had not seen for nearly a month. 'I am going to buy some grasshoppers for my birds, too,' he said. 'They haven't had any for three weeks.'
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said it had collected 124 swab samples in the past three weeks, and all tested negative for H5N1.
All the shops had been cleaned thoroughly and disinfected before the reopening, it said.