Phoenix Zoo giving out COVID-19 vaccines to susceptible animals

Dec 10, 2021, 4:35 AM | Updated: 9:34 am
In this Nov. 24, 2021 photo provided by the Phoenix Zoo, staff at the Phoenix Zoo deliver a COVID-1...

In this Nov. 24, 2021 photo provided by the Phoenix Zoo, staff at the Phoenix Zoo deliver a COVID-19 vaccination to an Emperor tamarin, a small primate, at the Animal Care Center at the Phoenix Zoo in Phoenix, Ariz. The zoo is the latest in the United States to vaccinate species most susceptible to getting COVID-19 from close contact with people. (Linda Hardwick/Phoenix Zoo via AP)

(Linda Hardwick/Phoenix Zoo via AP)

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Zoo is one of several across the country chosen to test a COVID-19 vaccine for big cats and other animals susceptible to getting the virus.

“Animal health and human health are closely connected,” Dr. Gary West, a veterinarian at the zoo, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“We started seeing increasingly concerning reports from other zoos where the large cats, tigers, lions, snow leopards were acquiring the infections from their human caretakers.”

The zoo spent much of the pandemic trying to protect vulnerable animals, taking steps including social distancing, limiting close contact with certain species and implementing personal protective equipment for animal caretakers and visitors.

When the vaccine for animals became available, West and others at the zoo jumped at the opportunity.

The zoo received 160 total doses of the vaccine, which was developed by animal health company Zoetis.

“We put together a list of species that we wanted to vaccinate twice and submitted that twice and we were able to vaccine for all those animals,” West said.

That list included African lion, Sumatran tigers and bobcats.

Other species being vaccinated based on susceptibility of clinical disease from SARS-CoV-2 includes Egyptian fruit bats, three-banded armadillo, Linne’s two-toed sloth.

West said the animals are reacting to the jabs about the same as humans.

“So far, we really haven’t seen anything significant, maybe some mild lethargy in a couple of our primates but really, nothing major,” he said.

As part of the vaccine trial, the Phoenix Zoo will send monthly reports to Zoetis detailing any side effects of the vaccine.

West said this vaccine is helping him and his colleagues at the zoo breathe a little easier.

“It really gives me a little bit of relief,” he said. “We can offer another layer of protection for these animals. You know, zoos are some of the last places you’re going to see [some of these animals] and some of the last places these animals are going to be saved in.

“We have some very rare animals such Sumatran tigers and Bornean orangutans and if there’s things we can do to offer additional protection from disease then we’re going to look at those opportunities.”

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Match Market & Bar Photo/Timothy Fox Photography)...

What’s cooking? Spring Arizona Restaurant Week starts 10-day run Friday

More than 100 restaurants have signed on to show off their menus during Arizona Restaurant Week, which kicks off Friday.
12 hours ago
(Photo by: Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)...
Danny Shapiro

Phoenix gas average eclipses $5 a gallon with more increases likely this summer, expert says

Phoenix has eclipsed an average of $5 for a gallon of gasoline and prices are likely to continue rising for a while, an industry expert said Wednesday.
12 hours ago
(Pixabay Stock Photo)...

Bicycle rider dies after getting hit by car on Phoenix street

A man who was riding a bicycle died after getting struck by a car Tuesday night on 51st Avenue near Camelback Road in Phoenix, authorities said.
12 hours ago
U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) meets with a Border Patrol official in Douglas, Arizona, in April ...
Kevin Stone

Here’s what Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona wants to see before Title 42 is lifted

U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona said there will be chaos at the southern border if Title 42 ends before the government is prepared to address the surge of migrants expected to follow.
12 hours ago
(Phoenix Fire Department Photo)...

More than 150 firefighters beat back flames at Phoenix pallet yard

More than 150 firefighters spent hours putting out a large fire at a pallet yard late Tuesday, first responders said.
12 hours ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Danny Shapiro

Chandler is No. 1 nationally for increase in 2-bedroom rent, according to report

Chandler is tops nationally for increase in two-bedroom rent, according to a report released Friday.
12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Christina O’Haver

Stroke month: Experts call attention to stroke prevention

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
Canvas Annuity

The secret to guaranteed retirement income

Annuities aren’t really a secret, but they are so misunderstood that they might as well be. Once you understand what an annuity is and how it can benefit you, you could decide this “secret” is the perfect supplement to your retirement plan.
Dr. Richard Carmona

Have you gotten your booster shot?

Do you remember when you got your last COVID-19 vaccination? If it has been more than five months since you completed your primary vaccination series, it’s time for you to get your booster. You may be eligible even sooner depending which vaccine you received. If you are over the age of 50 and received your […]
Phoenix Zoo giving out COVID-19 vaccines to susceptible animals