Coronavirus: Animals at Chicago-area zoo receiving vaccines

BROOKFIELD, Ill. — A captive audience has been receiving vaccines at a Chicago-area zoo.

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Veterinarians have begun administering COVID-19 vaccines to animals at the Brookfield Zoo, according to an announcement Tuesday from the Chicago Zoological Society.

The vaccine, made by Michigan-based animal health company Zoetis, has been authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Illinois state veterinarian, the Chicago Tribune reported. Similar shots have been given to the animals at the Detroit Zoo and other facilities around the country, according to WGN-TV. Like humans, the animals will receive two doses three weeks apart, WLS reported.

Like humans, animals can also catch COVID-19.

“In other zoos, we have seen cases,” Mike Adkesson, vice president of clinical medicine for the Chicago Zoological Society, told the Tribune. “They’ve been on the milder side.”

Adkesson added the cases have mostly been respiratory issues, such as coughing and sneezing, the newspaper reported.

The animals that are most at risk for COVID-19 are primates and larger carnivores such as big cats, according to the Tribune. The zoo’s animal ambassadors are also receiving vaccines first, because of their proximity with human visitors to the zoo, the newspaper reported.

“Vaccinating animals is not only important for their own health, but healthy animals help keep humans healthy, too,” Adkesson told WLS.

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