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July 17, 2021

High-risk animals at Philadelphia Zoo to get experimental COVID-19 vaccine

The vaccine was proven effective in clinical trials and received experimental use authorization

Odd News Animals
Philadelphia Zoo COVID-19 vaccine Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

The Philadelphia Zoo will begin administering experimental COVID-19 vaccines to some of its high-risk animals in the coming months.

Some animals at the Philadelphia Zoo will be injected with an experimental vaccine in the coming months to help protect them against COVID-19.

The vaccine comes from New Jersey-based veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis that is donating 11,000 vaccine doses to 70 zoos across the country.

So far, the Oakland Zoo has received their shots and started administering doses of the vaccine, which received experimental use authorization on a case by case basis from the United States Department of Agriculture.

The vaccine is not designed for humans and goes through a separate approval process, The New York Times reported.

While reports of animals contracting COVID-19 are fairly rare, the virus can infect and cause symptoms in animals via human contact. 

In San Diego, gorillas were among the first animals diagnosed with COVID-19. In Pakistan, two white tiger cubs died from the virus. There have not yet been any reports of humans contracting the virus from animals.

Philadelphia Zoo officials said they were eager to get their high-risk primates vaccinated and protected against the virus. 

“This is a serious issue for us, not just for people but for animals,” Director of Animal Health Keith Hinshaw told CBS3.

Great apes share 98% of their DNA with humans, making them more vulnerable to infection. Hinshaw says they will be up first for the shot to keep them safe and healthy.

Hinshaw said the reported cases of animals getting infected with the virus have come from caretakers that had close contact, but zoo officials are also worried about visitors to the Zoo as well.

The vaccine itself does not contain the live virus, and has been effective in clinical trials. 

The Philadelphia Zoo expects to get started with the vaccination process in the next couple of months.

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