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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Cleveland Zoo Animals To Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

Rob Hainer
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Shutterstock
Zoetis developed the vaccine for animals in response to confirmed cases of COVID-19 in gorillas at the San Diego Zoo. The company is donating more than 11,000 vaccine doses to nearly 70 zoos, including the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

Humans aren’t the only ones who can contract COVID-19. Some zoo animals have also tested positive during the pandemic, which is why the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will soon vaccinate about 150 animals.

Primates, big cats, lemurs, and bats are among the animals that will receive the vaccine when it arrives in a few weeks, said Dr. Michael Selig, head of veterinary programs at the zoo.

“Deciding which animals get it was mostly related to seeing which animals had tested positive for it in other zoos, so the big cats have been noted to be susceptible to it, primates in general kind of made sense for us, in that evolutionarily, they’re related to us,” Dr. Selig said.

None of the animals at the Cleveland zoo have shown symptoms of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic. That’s partly due to the precautions put in place to keep animals safe from the virus, and partly due to luck, he said.

“The Cleveland Metroparks requires masks for employees that aren’t vaccinated right now, and then whenever anyone is around a susceptible species within that six-foot distance, you have to wear a mask regardless of whether you’re vaccinated or not,” he said.

Guests don’t have to wear masks, but the zoo instituted policies that keep guests socially distant from the animals.

Zoetis, the company that made the vaccine for animals, is donating more than 11,000 vaccine doses to nearly 70 zoos, including Cleveland’s zoo.

The company developed the vaccine in response to confirmed cases of COVID-19 in gorillas at the San Diego Zoo, according to a statement from Zoetis officials. 

The vaccine has been authorized for experimental use on a case-by-case basis by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and state veterinarians.

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