ATTLEBORO – Everyone knows the coronavirus is a danger to humans, but animals can also suffer from it.
As a result, many zoos across the country are vaccinating animals most at risk of contracting the disease, and the Capron Park Zoo will soon be one of them.
Deputy zoo director Brenda Young said on Tuesday she hopes vaccinations will take place by the end of the year.
The goal is to keep the animals healthy and safe, she said.
Right now, the city’s attorney is reviewing a contract with New Jersey-headquartered pharmaceutical company Zoetis, which supplies the vaccine.
Zoetis specializes in medicines for animals.
âWe’ve been working on this for a while,â Young said. “I hope we will be able to do this before the end of the year.”
Young said the animals most at risk are primates.
Among those to be vaccinated are zoo lions, leopards, red pandas and fennic foxes.
Great apes are susceptible to the coronavirus, but the zoo has none.
Young said the virus had also been found in domestic animals such as cats and dogs, but she was not aware of any deaths among zoo animals or other animals.
But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been, she said.
A contract is required to provide recognition by the zoo to Zoetis that side effects, if any, are unknown at this point. But Young said the vaccine has been used safely by many zoos so far.
According to a press release from Zoo New England, which operates these zoos, the Zoetis vaccine is given in two doses about a month apart, similar to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for humans.
The vaccine has been used in as many as 70 zoos and other animal care facilities, according to the press release.
“This vaccine is an important preventative health measure to protect species that may contract the virus,” Dr. Chris Bonar, senior veterinarian in the animal health department at Zoo New England, said in the statement.
Georges W. Rhodes can be reached at 508-236-0432.