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Lions and tigers and bears in OZ (Oakland Zoo) get COVID-19 vaccine

Tiger receiving COVID-19 vaccination
A tiger receives a COVID-19 vaccination at the Oakland Zoo.
(Oakland Zoo)

A Bay Area zoo is inoculating its big cats, bears and ferrets against COVID-19 as part of a national effort to protect animal species using an experimental vaccine.

Ginger and Molly, two tigers, were the first animals at the Oakland Zoo to get the vaccine this week, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The doses were donated and developed by veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis in New Jersey.

Alex Herman, vice president of veterinary services at the zoo, said that none of the animals has gotten the coronavirus but that the zoo wanted to be proactive. Tigers, black and grizzly bears, mountain lions and ferrets were the first to receive the first of two doses. Next are primates and pigs.

In a news release, Herman said the zoo has used barriers for social distancing and staff members have worn protective gear to protect susceptible species. “We’re happy and relieved to now be able to better protect our animals with this vaccine,” she said.

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Zoetis is donating more than 11,000 doses for animals living in nearly 70 zoos, as well as in more than a dozen conservatories, sanctuaries, academic institutions and government organizations in 27 states, according to the news release.

The San Diego Zoo started inoculating primates in January after a COVID-19 outbreak in a group of gorillas at its Safari Park.

Great apes share 98% of their DNA with humans and are especially susceptible, as are felines. Confirmed coronavirus cases have been found in gorillas, tigers and lions at zoos, and in domestic cats and dogs.


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