A Baltimore Zoo is planning to give Covid-19 vaccines a number of its species as part of an experiment.
Maryland Zoo will vaccinate animals that research has shown to be more vulnerable to catching the disease. The zoo has not experienced any Covid cases in its animal population and is taking the step as a precautionary measure.
“We expect to receive the vaccine this fall from the animal health company Zoetis, which has developed a vaccine specifically for animals,” says Dr. Ellen Bronson, the zoo’s director of animal health, conservation and research, in a statement.
Zoetis is an international animal vaccine manufacturer and developer and has donated over 11,000 of their specially formatted Covid-19 vaccines to 70 zoos and animal centers. The scheme has been backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The effects of Covid-19 on animals are not very well understood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, it is still being investigated.
The zoo’s Covid vaccines will be awarded to animals they have assessed to have the greatest risk. In the statement, Maryland Zoo specified that they would inoculate chimpanzees, North American river otters and many of their wild cats, such as amur leopards and cheetahs.
Dr. Bronson said the animals were “trained to participate in their own health care”.
“They work willingly with the animal care team and veterinary technicians to receive injections and in some cases even to allow blood to be taken and have ultrasound examinations performed while they are awake,” she continued.
She said this tried to eliminate the need to sedate the animals “for minor medical procedures”.
According to the statement, the effort is part of their larger pandemic control measures, such as masking and social distance. After the animals have had their jabs, they will be closely monitored for side effects.
Maryland Zoo’s decision to vaccinate some of their animals comes as a number of other zoos have done the same. In March, the San Diego Zoo became the first zoo to vaccinate their animal population as they vaccinated their gorillas. Oakland Zoo began their vaccination program for some of their animals in June.
In July, Erin Harrison, a spokeswoman for the California Zoo, told CNN that the 50 animals involved in the process were doing well and were being monitored. In addition, she gave further details about the reasons why they did so.
“We are concerned about the animals’ overall population and long-term survival on the planet,” she told the network. “There has been concern about wild populations of these animals, some of the last ones on earth, and what might happen when the virus enters these animals. We’re just trying to do the best we can. ”
In June, tiger reserves in India were forced to close by the government after a covid outbreak. A lion is said to have died of complications from the virus. In April 2020, there were reports of lions and tigers being infected at the Bronx Zoo.
The independent contacted Maryland Zoo and Zoetis for further comments.