CINCINNATI — Officials at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens announced 80 animals have been vaccinated for COVID-19 over the past several weeks. 

What You Need To Know

  • The doses have been given to animals of all sizes, from skunks to big cats

  • Zoo officials worked with the animals that would be receiving the vaccine months before they were administered to make sure they were comfortable, and as a result, most of the doses were given with no anesthesia

  • So far, there have no negative side effects

  • Observations will be shared with Zoetis, the animal health company that provided the vaccine specially made for animals

Over the past six weeks, first doses have been given giraffes, skunks, cats that share space with humans as well as big cats, gorillas, bonobos, orangutans, red pandas, goats, river otters and bearcats.

The second doses will be completed over the next two weeks, according to the zoo. 

Months before the vaccine arrived, the zoo said vet techs and zoo keepers worked extra with the animals that would be receiving the shots to make them feel more comfortable. Because of this, most of the doses were administered successfully without anesthesia.

“We usually have a year for the animals that receive flu shots and other routine annual vaccinations to forget about the sting, but the second COVID shots had to be given within three weeks of the first,” said Cincinnati Zoo’s Director of Animal Health Dr. Mark Campbell in a statement. “We were concerned that the fresh memory of the first injection would make animals less willing to offer a shoulder or thigh for the second round, but they did. That success is 100% due to the strong relationships these animals have with care staff and our animal health team.”

The COVID-19 vaccine was made special for animals from Zoetis, an animal health company. There have been no negative side effects so far, zoo keepers reported. Any and all observations will be shared with Zoetis.