TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – ZooTampa announced Thursday its crew has begun vaccinating animals who have been identified as the most susceptible to COVID-19.
According to a release from the zoo, the vaccine was developed exclusively for animals by the Michigan-based veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis and has been used in other zoological organizations across the country.
“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 Dr. Cynthia Stringfield, the senior vice president of Animal Health, Conservation & Education. “The animals routinely get other vaccinations. Many of the animals are trained to present themselves to our animal care staff for minor medical procedures, including vaccinations. We’re both thankful and relieved a special vaccine is now available to protect animals against COVID-19, some which are endangered and threatened species.”
The zoo’s veterinary team has developed a schedule for the vaccine rollout. According to ZooTampa, species such as Florida panthers, skunks, otters, and primates are on top of the list to vaccinate.
Zoo officials say they have received a shipment of approximately 220 doses – enough to vaccinate roughly 19 species which includes 93 animals.
“Our expert staff of animal care and medical professionals will continue to monitor our animals throughout the vaccination process closely,” Stringfield said.
The Zoetis COVID-19 vaccine received investigational authorization from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ZooTampa said 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.