Even the Saint Louis Zoo's Animals Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19

Sep 30, 2021 at 10:34 am
click to enlarge Jimiyu, the 29-year-old chimpanzee, got his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. - Courtesy Saint Louis Zoo
Jimiyu, the 29-year-old chimpanzee, got his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Keeping the animals safe and healthy at the Saint Louis Zoo is of the utmost importance, and that’s why the zoo has started vaccinating its animals against COVID-19.

Jimiyu, a 29-year-old chimpanzee, was the first resident of the zoo to get his first dose of the Zoetis COVID-19 vaccine, a press release from the zoo reads. The vaccine is approved for use on animals on an experimental, case-by-case basis. Zoetis donated 11,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to many zoos, including St. Louis.

The chimpanzee's shot was administered during a routine check-up where he received other vaccines, as well. He isn’t expected to experience adverse side effects, zoo veterinarians say. The zoo says Jimiyu is recovering well in a private area of the Jungle of Apes habitat.

Saint Louis Zoo is planning on administering doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to almost 100 bat-eared foxes, painted dogs, big cats, river otters and more primates. All of the animals that the zoo plans to give the COVID-19 vaccine are at risk of contracting the virus. Luis Padilla, the vice president of animal collections at the zoo, said in the press release that none of the animals at the zoo have contracted COVID-19.

"We are very fortunate to partner with Zoetis and have access to this vaccine as an added layer of protection to keep our animals healthy," Padilla says in a press release. "Many of the recently recognized emerging diseases share a connection between humans and animals. Now more than ever, it is important that we recognize that the health of humans, animals and the environment are interconnected and dependent on each other.”

The director of animal health at the zoo, Sathya Chinnadurai, echoes Padilla when he says the zoo believes in keeping the animals healthy, not just treating them when they are sick.

He added that vaccines are nothing new to the organization. For each vaccine the zoo administers, Chinnadurai says, the zoo “first determines risk of exposure, risk of illness from the disease and potential vaccine side-effects.” Then, they will choose to go on with a shot from there.

"Preventive health is most of what we do here," Chinnadurai says in the press release. "With cases of coronavirus infection coming up in zoos around the country, we are lucky to be able to give this vaccine to our at-risk patients."

If zoo animals can do it, you can too. Get vaccinated, ya filthy animals.

Follow Jenna on Twitter at @writesjenna. Email the author at [email protected]
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