Maryland Zoo planning to vaccinate some animals against COVID-19

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Posted at 11:47 AM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 11:47:41-04

BALTIMORE — The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is preparing to vaccinate some of its animals that are susceptible to COVID-19.

Zoetis is an animal health company that has developed a vaccine specifically for them. They are donating more than 11,000 doses to nearly 70 zoos and other animal care facilities.

Initial plans are to vaccinate the zoo's North American river otters, chimpanzees and cats, including the leopard, cheetah, bobcat, and lion.

Although no COVID-19 cases have been reported among animals at the Maryland Zoo, the U.S. Department of Agriculture vaccine has authorized the vaccine on a case-by-case basis.

Zoo officials indicated the vaccines would be administered without having to tranquilize the animals.

“Many of these animals are trained to participate in their own health care, meaning they willingly work with the animal care team and veterinary technicians to receive injections, and in some cases to even allow blood to be drawn and have ultrasound examinations performed while awake," said Dr. Ellen Bronson, senior director of animal health, conservation, and research at The Maryland Zoo. "The training avoids the need in some situations to anesthetize the animal for minor medical procedures.”

Bronson added the animals would be observed for any potential adverse effects from the vaccine, which are expected to be delivered in the fall.