Nashville Zoo plans to vaccinate animals against COVID-19

Nashville Zoo

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — While COVID-19 vaccinations for humans have been available for months, protection for zoo animals is just now starting to roll out.

The Nashville Zoo will soon be vaccinating its most at-risk residents against the coronavirus.

Dr. Heather Schwartz says that while there have been no cases of COVID-19 in any animals at the Nashville Zoo, other zoos have had instances of the virus.

“I’m sure that a lot of people have already heard that there have been lions and tigers that have had COVID. There also have been great apes that have had COVID,” Dr. Schwartz said.

While there is still a lot to learn about how different species react to the coronavirus, the company Zoetis has been busy developing a vaccine.

“Nashville Zoo will end up being part of the Zoetis vaccination program for COVID and we’re basing it on studies that thus far in species we are learning are susceptible to COVID,” Dr. Schwartz said.

According to Dr. Schwartz, vaccine doses may be available as soon as November at the Nashville Zoo and some animals will be at the top of the list. 

“Especially for us, it will be our greater apes and lesser apes and then our big cats,” she said.

The Zoetis vaccine is specifically created for animals and is not the same formulation as any of the vaccines designed for humans.

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