Great apes at the San Diego Zoo are now among those to receive the COVID vaccine. Several orangutans and bonobos received an experimental vaccine designed for animals.

Source: ABC 10 News/YouTube

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Several apes at the zoo that are “that are most at risk and can be easily vaccinated” received two doses of the vaccine, according to CBS News. Eight gorillas at the zoo tested positive for the coronavirus in January. “That made us realise that our other apes were at risk,” Nadine Lamberski, the chief conservation and wildlife health officer for the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “We wanted to do our best to protect them from this virus because we don’t really know how it’s going to impact them.”

Scientists warned in March 2020 that chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans were at risk of extinction during the pandemic. “This isn’t the norm. In my career, I haven’t had access to an experimental vaccine this early in the process and haven’t had such an overwhelming desire to want to use one,” Lamberski told National Geographic.

Zoetis started developing an animal vaccine in 2020 after the first dog tested positive for the virus. “Now more than ever before, we can all see the important connection between animal health and human health,” the spokesperson said. “While thankfully a COVID vaccine is not needed for cats and dogs at this time, we have applied our early development work to help the Great Apes at the San Diego Zoo and in other species on an experimental basis for emergency uses.”

Read more about animal-human coronavirus transmission, including mink farms in Denmark and the infection at the Bronx Zoo.

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