Columbus Zoo gives animals COVID vaccines


COVID-19 is not just a human problem. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has already vaccinated more than 100 animals against the virus, including tigers, lions, gorillas and giraffes.

  • More shots will take place in the coming weeks, according to zoo officials.

Why is this important: Several species – especially primates and cats, large and small – can catch COVID from their human caretakers. Many are in danger.

The plot: While humans are drawn to incentives like gift cards and million dollar lotteries, all it took to motivate Asian small-clawed otters was a tasty bite of smelt, said to Axios zoo spokesperson Jen Fields.

What is happening: Animals at the Columbus Zoo are trained using positive reinforcement and favorite treats. They approach zoo staff at the exhibit gates and sit down to receive the injections. This is also how they participate in health examinations and blood tests.

  • It reduces stress for animals, because sedatives are not necessary.

And after: Small cats like the lynx, servals and Pallas’ cats are among the next to be vaccinated, Fields said.

Driving the news: Animal health company Zoetis donates more than 11,000 doses of animal vaccines to dozens of zoos, including Columbus, and other facilities across the country.

  • Shots’ the immune system stimulating ingredients are different from human vaccines and do not impact these supplies.

The big picture: Just under 300 animals nationwide have tested positive for COVID, according to the USDA. This also includes pets like dogs and cats, although they seem to be less prone to problems than other animals.

Yes, but: The CDC does not recommend routine animal testing, so the actual number of cases is likely higher.

Can you vaccinate your pet? No, and at this point in the pandemic most experts agree that it probably won’t be necessary.


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