Gorillas, chimpanzees set to receive their first doses of COVID-19 vaccine at North Carolina Zoo

Piedmont Triad News

ASHEBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — The North Carolina Zoo wants to make sure that even the animals are safe from COVID-19.

The zoo is set to receive a shipment of an experiment animal vaccine created by Zoetis, which creates medication specifically for animals. According to Zoetis, the United States Department of Agriculture and appropriate state veterinarians authorized their COVID-19 vaccine for experimental use with animals on a case-by-case basis.

The North Carolina Zoo will receive its first shipment at the end of July. The zoo’s seven gorillas and 15 chimpanzees are first in line and will receive two doses each.

Another shipment will follow in September and will go to lions, cougars, wolves and bears.

In July, Zoetis began donating doses with a plan to donate more than 11,000 doses to facilities across 27 states. The North Carolina Zoo is one of about 70 zoos to benefit from the donations.

  • Chief Veterinarian Dr. Jb Minter with some of the animal species receiving the vaccinations. (Courtesy of the North Carolina Zoo)
  • Chief Veterinarian Dr. Jb Minter with some of the animal species receiving the vaccinations. (Courtesy of the North Carolina Zoo)
  • Chief Veterinarian Dr. Jb Minter with some of the animal species receiving the vaccinations. (Courtesy of the North Carolina Zoo)
  • Chief Veterinarian Dr. Jb Minter with some of the animal species receiving the vaccinations. (Courtesy of the North Carolina Zoo)
  • Chief Veterinarian Dr. Jb Minter with some of the animal species receiving the vaccinations. (Courtesy of the North Carolina Zoo)
  • Chief Veterinarian Dr. Jb Minter with some of the animal species receiving the vaccinations. (Courtesy of the North Carolina Zoo)

“Zoetis has a long history of supporting zoo veterinarians and the animals in their care,” said Mike McFarland, chief medical officer at Zoetis. “We are proud that our innovative research and development work and vaccine donations can help veterinary professionals within the zoo community continue to provide a high standard of care to the primates, big cats and many other species they care for and reduce the risk of COVID-19.”

Zoetis sent the first supply of vaccine to the San Diego Zoo after receiving an emergency request.

The San Diego Zoo said that several members of the gorilla troop contracted the virus and tested positive on Jan. 11. Winston the gorilla, an older member of the troop, suffered symptoms such as coughing and lethargy before overcoming the virus with the help of the veterinary team.

“San Diego Zoo Global is relieved to announce that the eight-member troop is eating, drinking, interacting and on their way to a full recovery, thanks to the incredible work of wildlife care professionals, the veterinary team, and collaborations with a wide array of colleagues and partners who ensured that the highest standard of care was given to the affected gorillas,” the zoo said in a news release.

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