The Philadelphia Zoo has fully vaccinated 46 animals, from gorillas and orangutans to cheetahs and meerkats, against COVID-19 since September.
Why it matters: Wild animals can also contract the virus. Big cats and great apes seem to be most susceptible to its adverse effects, according to experts.
What's happening: The Philadelphia Zoo started vaccinating animals as a precaution this year, according to its director of animal health, Keith Hinshaw.
- Zoo officials are working to vaccinate a total of 113 animals with doses provided by Zoetis, a former subsidiary of Pfizer that develops medicine and drugs for animals.
- Thirteen animals, including the red pandas, will receive their second of the two-dose series later this week.
How it works: Zoetis handles government approvals because the two-dose vaccine is experimental.
- Each use needs to be authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the state.
Zoom out: Almost 300 animals nationwide have tested positive for the virus, according to the USDA. Routine testing of animals isn't recommended, so that figure could be higher.
- Zoos across the country have documented cases of animals getting sick from COVID-19, including lions and tigers at Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and the Bronx Zoo in New York City.
- Last week, three snow leopards died of complications from the virus at Lincoln Children's Zoo in Nebraska.
Between the lines: Snow leopards in particular seem to be getting hit the worst among zoo animals, Hinshaw said.
- The Delta variant of the virus is usually the culprit.
Of note: Philadelphia's zoo hasn't had any confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to Hinshaw.
- The zoo has conducted three tests over the past 18 months.
What's next: The zoo will be asking for more vaccines in the coming months, but for less than 10 animals.
- But that could change if the zoo acquires a new animal in need or a baby is born.
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