Great Plains Zoo Vaccinating Animals For The Coronavirus

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls is in the process of vaccinating its most susceptible animals against the coronavirus.

A global animal health company, Zoetis, has developed an experimental vaccine for COVID-19 and is working with zoos across the country to distribute its limited supply to vaccinate the most at-risk species as soon as possible.

Great Plains veterinary staff worked closely with zookeepers to deliver the first dose of the vaccine to many of the species considered at risk, including primates and large cats. Zoo officials have administered 57 vaccine shots in just over a week. All animals that received the first dose, will get a second dose in about three weeks, KSFY-TV reported.

Because the vaccine is experimental, zoo staff will report on its use and any adverse effects to Zoetis. No significant side effects were found in the first round of inoculations, officials said.

“It is a real relief to get our most sensitive animals vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2,” said zoo veterinarian, Dr. Louden Wright. “Data has shown that vaccination drastically reduces the severity of COVID-19 in humans, and we are optimistic that the same will be true in our zoo animals. Anything we can do to help protect these animals under our care is absolutely worth trying.”

Additional barriers will remain in place around the Amur tiger enclosure, due to their heightened sensitivity to COVID-19.