San Antonio Zoo to begin vaccinating animals against COVID-19

The zoo’s African lions, Sumatran tigers, white-cheeked gibbons, and Francois langur will be the first animals to receive vaccinations

The San Antonio Zoo's African lions will be among the first animals to receive COVID-19 vaccinations along with Sumatran tigers, white-cheeked gibbons, and Francois langur.
The San Antonio Zoo's African lions will be among the first animals to receive COVID-19 vaccinations along with Sumatran tigers, white-cheeked gibbons, and Francois langur. (San Antonio Zoo)

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Zoo is scheduled to receive its first shipment of a COVID-19 vaccine for animals and plans to administer the first doses in the coming weeks.

The vaccine is uniquely made for animals and donated by the animal health company, Zoetis. Experimental use is being authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Texas state veterinarian, the news release said. The vaccine is similar but not identical to the same vaccine developed for humans and will reportedly require a booster three weeks after the first injection.

“We are looking to initially vaccinate those species that have been shown to contract COVID-19,” said Dr. Rob Coke, the Director of Veterinary Care at the zoo. “Species such as our large and medium cat species, lesser apes, other primates, mongoose, monk, ferrets, and otters are all on our list to vaccinate. Others will be added to the list as vaccine availability and research progresses.”

The first zoo animals to receive the vaccine will be the African lions, Sumatran tigers, white-cheeked gibbons, and Francois langur, according to a news release.

“We are very excited to be one of the initial zoos in the country to obtain and administer the Zoetis vaccine,” said Tim Morrow, President and C.E.O. of the San Antonio Zoo. “The safety of our animals, guests, and zoo crew is our top priority. Our veterinary and animal care teams have worked incredibly hard to protect and prevent our animals from contracting COVID-19 through increased disinfection, personal protective equipment, and new guest procedures. Vaccinating our animals is one more important step.”

According to a Zoetis statement, “at least 75% of emerging infectious diseases have an animal origin, including COVID-19. Now more than ever before, we can all see the important connection between animal health and human health.”

The zoo said more species are due to receive the vaccine as it becomes available.


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