Zoo New England said Wednesday that staff has started vaccinating animals susceptible to COVID-19 at its zoos in Boston and Stoneham.
The nonprofit confirmed the vaccination push at Franklin Park Zoo in the Hub and Stone Zoo in Stoneham in a statement, which said the first round of the initiative’s focused on the “highest risk species” such as primates; cats including lions, tigers, and snow leopards; ferrets; and North American river otters.
“While we have not had any cases of COVID-19 with the animals at Zoo New England’s Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo, this vaccine is an important preventative health measure to protect species that are susceptible to contracting the virus,” said Dr. Chris Bonar, senior veterinarian in Zoo New England’s Animal Health Department, in the statement.
The statement said the animal COVID vaccine was developed by Zoetis, a global animal health company that’s donated more than 11,000 doses to help protect over 100 mammalian species living in nearly 70 zoos and other facilities.
Similar to COVID shots developed for humans, the statement said, the Zoetis vaccine’s administered in two doses spaced about four weeks apart.
Zoo New England estimates it’ll take three to four months to fully inoculate all the at-risk animals under its care at the two zoos, according to the statement.
“We are deeply committed to providing exceptional care to all of the animals residing at our zoos,” Bonar said. “While we do not expect any adverse reactions to the vaccine, nor have any been reported from other zoos, we will be monitoring all of the animals closely for any signs of a vaccine reaction.”
Zoetis had said in a July statement that the 11,000 doses were being donated to zoos and other facilities in 27 states.