WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Several zoos in the U.S have vaccinated their animal residents.
- The experimental COVID-19 vaccine was developed by the pharmaceutical company Zoetis.
- Early this year, eight gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park tested positive for COVID-19.
Several zoos in the U.S are vaccinating their animal residents.
An increased number of U.S. zoos, including Denver Zoo, Oakland Zoo, Milwaukee County Zoo, and the Henry Vilas Zoo, are vaccinating their animals against COVID-19.
This comes after the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance gave vaccines to their primates after eight gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park tested positive for COVID-19. The vaccine was developed in March by Zoetis, a veterinary pharmaceutical company.
According to Zoetis, they donated more than 11,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for animals to about 70 zoos, conservatories, sanctuaries, governmental operations, and academic institutions.
Scott Larsen, head veterinarian at the Denver Zoo, clarified to CNN that giving vaccines to animals should not be seen as taking away vaccines that are meant for humans. He added there have been concerns about what may happen when the virus gets into wild animals, especially the near-extinct ones.
The Oakland Zoo said they received their first shipment of vaccines on June 29, which they used on tigers, black bears, grizzly bears, mountain lions, and ferrets – “their highest at-risk animals,” and on primates and fruit bats next.
Dr. Alex Herman, VP of Veterinary Services at Oakland Zoo, said before they vaccinated the animals, they have been using public barriers to ensure social distancing, while their staff used enhanced PPE to protect susceptible species from the virus.
The Milwaukee County Zoo spokeswoman Jennifer Diliberti-Shea told the Associated Press that they routinely give vaccines to their animals when new diseases emerge.
Joseph Darcangelo, deputy director at Henry Vilas in Wisconsin zoo, said that they plan to use the vaccines on great apes, tigers, lions, otters, skunks, and badgers.
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance chief conservation and wildlife health officer Nadine Lamberski told National Geographic that they gave two doses of the experimental COVID-19 vaccine to four orangutans and five bonobos under their care in February, one month after eight of San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s gorillas tested positive for COVID-19. The animals were the first known great apes in the world to contract COVID-19.
“This isn’t the norm. In my career, I haven’t had access to an experimental vaccine this early in the process and haven’t had such an overwhelming desire to want to use one,” said Laberski.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said COVID-19 could “spread from people to animals in some situations, especially during close contact.” However, the CDC is still studying the link.