Mar 6, 2021 - Health

San Diego Zoo apes get experimental COVID-19 vaccine

Picture of two apes in the San Diego Zoo

Photo: Santi Visalli/Getty Images

Nine great apes from the San Diego Zoo have received an experimental coronavirus vaccine, not designed for human use, National Geographic first reported.

Details: Four orangutans and five bonobos were inoculated with the vaccine developed by Zoetis, a veterinary pharmaceuticals company, according to The New York Times.

The big picture: Zoetis' vaccine is now being tested on mink and the company is expanding its production. More doses will be provided to zoos once they become available, per the Times.

Worth mentioning: The vaccinations come after eight gorillas tested positive in January for the coronavirus, presumably infected by exposure to a zookeeper who tested positive had COVID-19, officials said, per AP. The gorillas experienced a range of symptoms, are recovering.

  • "Infection of apes is a major concern for zoos and conservationists," per the Times. "They easily fall prey to human respiratory infections, and common cold viruses have caused deadly outbreaks in chimpanzees in Africa."
Go deeper