TAMPA, FL. – ZooTampa has begun to vaccinate animals who have been identified as most susceptible to COVID-19.
Use of the special vaccine, which was developed exclusively for animals by the Michigan-based veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis, has been used for vaccinating those species that are known to be more vulnerable to contracting the virus in other zoological organizations throughout 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 Senior VP of Animal Health, Conservation & Education, Dr. Cynthia Stringfield. “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 developed a schedule for the vaccine rollout. Species such as Florida panthers, skunks, otters and primates are on top of the list to vaccinate.
The Zoo received a shipment of approximately 220 doses – enough to vaccinate roughly 19 species which includes 93 animals. ZooTampa is one of approximately 70 zoos, research institutions and sanctuaries working with Zoetis who has donated the doses.
“Our expert staff of animal care and medical professionals will continue to monitor our animals throughout the vaccination process closely,” added Dr. Stringfield.
The Zoetis COVID-19 vaccine received investigational authorization by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 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.
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