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San Antonio Zoo will soon begin vaccinating animals against COVID-19

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The zoo's Sumatran tigers will be among the first animals to receive the Zoetis COVID-19 vaccine. - COURTESY OF SAN ANTONIO ZOO
  • Courtesy of San Antonio Zoo
  • The zoo's Sumatran tigers will be among the first animals to receive the Zoetis COVID-19 vaccine.
A new population is now eligible to receive their COVID-19 jabs.

In the next few weeks, the San Antonio Zoo will begin vaccinating its resident animals against the virus, which has been shown to infect certain animal species.

The zoo's vaccine was specifically developed for animals by the company Zoetis, and has been authorized for experimental use by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Texas state veterinarian. The San Antonio facility will be among the first zoos in the country to receive and administer the vaccine.

The first San Antonio Zoo animals to receive shots will be the African lions, Sumatran tigers, white-cheeked gibbons and Francois langur.

“We are looking to initially vaccinate those species that have been shown to contract COVID-19,” Director of Veterinary Care Dr. Rob Coke said in a statement. “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 zoo will soon receive a shipment of vaccine donated by Zoetis, and veterinary staff is coordinating with animal care crews to schedule dates for the shots.

The Zoetis vaccine is similar, but not identical, to the COVID-19 vaccine developed for humans. It will require a booster shot three weeks after the initial dose.

“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," zoo President and CEO Tim Morrow said in a statement.

"Vaccinating our animals is one more important step.”

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