Chattanooga Zoo begins vaccinating “at-risk” animals

Zoo official says goal is to eventually vaccinate all animals "susceptible" to disease

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — The Chattanooga Zoo, of course, prioritizes the health of its animals.

Believe it or not, regarding the coronavirus, there are some animals that can contract it.

While none at the zoo have so far, veterinarians and zoo staff believe vaccines for their animals can better help keep it that way.

According to the zoo, “one bottle of vaccine contains ten doses which must be used within 24 hours of opening.”

So far, ten vaccines have been administered to five different species.

“Some of our animals here at the zoo are susceptible to the disease, so it’s something that we have been working towards for a while now and we’re finally able to be able to give those out,” said Chloe Watts, the zoo’s director of marketing. “Due to a lot of hard work from our staff as far as training animals to be able to receive those vaccines, we’re finally able to administer them.”

So far, a pair of jaguars, three chimpanzees and a female Northern White-Cheeked Gibbon have all received vaccines.

The Zoo’s veterinarian, Dr. Anthony Ashley, said the vaccine distribution isn’t just beneficial to the animals who receive a shot, but that, quote, “it’s also instrumental to the health of our entire Zoo. The more animals we can protect through inoculations, the lower the risk for our entire collection.”

Watts additionally clarified that the vaccines the animals receive are different from the ones created for humans.

“We’re not pulling from human vaccines that are available,” Watts said. “They’re special for our animals, so they’re not an mRNA vaccine.”

Like Ashley, Watts believes that the vaccines can only improve their animals’ health and well-being.

And at the Chattanooga Zoo, the staff only wants what’s best for their furry family.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Watts said. “These animals are our responsibility, they’re in our care, and so we want to do everything within our power to ensure their safety.”

For now, only species considered to be the “most at-risk” have received COVID vaccines.

Watts says moving forward, the goal is to vaccinate every species in the zoo’s collection that is “susceptible” to the coronavirus

Categories: Chattanooga, COVID-19, Featured, Local News