ZooTampa begins vaccinating animals against COVID-19

A Florida zoo is taking steps to protect its residents against COVID-19.

ZooTampa has begun to vaccinate animals who have been identified as most susceptible to coronavirus. They are using a special vaccine developed by the Michigan-based veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis that is exclusively for animals known to be more vulnerable to contracting the virus.

"The safety and well-being of the more than 1000 animals entrusted to our care is of paramount priority. We have not had any cases of animals contracting COVID-19 at ZooTampa and continue to follow stringent protocols which have been in place since the beginning of the pandemic," said Senior VP of Animal Health, Conservation & Education, Dr. Cynthia Stringfield. "We’re both thankful and relieved a special vaccine is now available to protect animals against COVID-19, some of which are endangered and threatened species."

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Species such as Florida panthers, skunks, otters and primates are on top of the list to vaccinate. The Zoo has received enough doses to vaccinate roughly 19 species which includes 93 animals. 

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"Our expert staff of animal care and medical professionals will continue to monitor our animals throughout the vaccination process closely," added Dr. Stringfield.

According to a press release, Zoetis’ research and development team applied decades of experience developing other antiviral vaccines for cats, dogs, poultry, and cattle to create a COVID-19 vaccine uniquely formulated for animal species.