9.25 a.m .: The first great apes were vaccinated against Covid-19 in the San Diego Zoo in the US state of California. This was confirmed by the zoo operator, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance on Twitter. “The vaccine was specially developed for animals,” it said. According to National Geographic, four orangutans and five bonobos have been vaccinated, and four more monkeys will soon be on the line. The animals received their second dose every three weeks.
“The animals are fine and we haven’t seen any adverse reactions to the vaccine,” said Darla Davis, spokeswoman for the Wildlife Alliance, on CNN. Eight gorillas in the zoo had previously tested positive for the virus in January – making them the first great apes to test positive in the world. However, symptoms were mild and were limited to cough, constipation, and fatigue. The monkeys have since made a full recovery. It was suspected that the animals had become infected from an asymptomatic employee, despite the zoo’s safety precautions.
Nadine Lamberski of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance told National Geographic that she had never had access to an experimental vaccine this early in her career. Although the vaccine had previously only been tested on cats and dogs, she chose to take the risk of vaccinating the great apes with it. In total, she and her team looked after 14 gorillas, eight bonobos and four orangutans – all endangered animals that spend a lot of time indoors, where disease is more likely to spread. During vaccination, the animals were distracted with treats.
Corona infections have also been confirmed in dogs, cats, mink, tigers, lions and some other animals around the world, according to National Geographic. The fact that great apes were susceptible to the corona virus worried the scientists in particular, reported National Geographic. There are only fewer than 5000 gorillas left in the wild. Because they lived in close family groups, it was feared that the infection could spread quickly and endanger populations.