Animals at San Antonio Zoo to get COVID-19 vaccinations

The vaccine was especially made for animals and donated by Zoetis

The San Antonio Zoo's African lions will be among the first animals to receive COVID-19 vaccinations along with Sumatran tigers, white-cheeked gibbons, and Francois langur.
The San Antonio Zoo's African lions will be among the first animals to receive COVID-19 vaccinations along with Sumatran tigers, white-cheeked gibbons, and Francois langur. (San Antonio Zoo)

SAN ANTONIO – Some animals at the San Antonio Zoo will be getting their COVID-19 vaccinations soon.

Zoo officials said on Tuesday that they’re expecting a shipment of the vaccine soon and plan to administer the first doses in the next few weeks.

The first vaccine recipients will be large cats and primates, including African lions, Sumatran tigers, white-cheeked gibbons, and Francois langur.

More species will get the vaccine as it becomes available, zoo officials said.

The vaccine is similar to the ones that humans receive but it’s especially made for animals and is being donated by the animal health company, Zoetis. Experimental use is being authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Texas state veterinarian, zoo officials said. Animals will get a booster three weeks after the first injection.

“We are looking to initially vaccinate those species that have been shown to contract COVID-19,” said Director of Veterinary Care at the San Antonio Zoo, Dr. Rob Coke. “Species such as our large and medium cat species, lesser apes, other primates, mongoose, monk, ferrets, and otters are all on our list to vaccinate. Others will be added to the list as vaccine availability and research progresses.”

“We are very excited to be one of the initial zoos in the country to obtain and administer the Zoetis vaccine,” said President & C.E.O. of the San Antonio Zoo, Tim Morrow. “The safety of our animals, guests, and zoo crew is our top priority. Our veterinary and animal care teams have worked incredibly hard to protect and prevent our animals from contracting COVID-19 through increased disinfection, personal protective equipment, and new guest procedures. Vaccinating our animals is one more important step.”

Several other zoos have announced similar COVID inoculation programs, including zoos in Oakland, Denver and Detroit.

The San Antonio Zoo’s press release quoted a Zoetis statement as saying, “at least 75% of emerging infectious diseases have an animal origin, including COVID-19. Now more than ever before, we can all see the important connection between animal health and human health.”

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Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 20 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.