San Diego Zoo races to vaccinate lions, tigers and other vulnerable species as COVID surges

Five tigers now have the coronavirus. Zoo and Safari Park staff are vaccinating about 250 animals.

8/4/2021 8:33:00 AM

For subscribers: San Diego Zoo races to vaccinate lions, tigers and other vulnerable species as COVID surges

Five tigers now have the coronavirus. Zoo and Safari Park staff are vaccinating about 250 animals.

AdvertisementThe organization has also continued to vaccinate animals at both parks. Those efforts began in late January, when the zoo inoculated some of its orangutans and bonobos, marking the first time apes were immunized against the virus.And while trying to poke a wild animal with a needle might sound like a recipe for disaster, it’s something zoo and Safari Park staff do routinely through a combination of coaxing and conditioning.

Poll Finds Only 83% Of New Yorkers Visit Statue Of Liberty Every Day Series Of Grave Errors Results In Jeff And Kim's 5th Anniversary Watters: Biden might care if illegal immigrants were amassing in Delaware instead of Del Rio

Amara, 12, a female cheetah, is about to receive reinforced training in the “side-up technique,” which allows veterinarians to examine animals or administer medical procedures.(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)For Amara the cheetah, that means bribing the cat with a yummy morsel of meat or a “bloodsicle,” a frozen chunk of blood for her to lick while she sidles up to the edge of her cage for a quick poke. And for Johnny the coati, a distant relative of the racoon, that means enticing him with a spoonful of honey inside a plastic container, prompting him to stick his head inside while a vet administers the vaccine.

Jennifer Hardell, wildlife care specialist at the Safari Park, works with Johnny, a 7-year-old coati. When he puts his head inside the container, he gets honey, and staffers can perform routine examinations and administer vaccines.(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

“I would say in easily greater than 75% of the animals that I’ve vaccinated, they don’t even react,” said Dr. Daniel Fredholm, a veterinarian who’s given coronavirus vaccines to about 40 animals at the Safari Park.Staff generally avoid anesthetizing animals whenever possible, Peterson said, because they want to avoid any side effects from anesthesia and would rather have the wildlife willingly participate in their own healthcare. So when an animal gets up and walks away before a veterinarian can deliver the shot, they usually just try again later.

In other cases, keepers use what they call a medical squeeze, a narrow metal crate that the animals have learned to walk into and where a vet delivers a shot through a hole in the side. Oddly enough, the hard part is getting them to walk out at the end, according to Annette Russel, member of the Safari Park’s wildlife care team.

“They don’t want to leave,” she said. “They get so reinforced in there and stay. ‘No, I’m being an A-plus student. Where’s my good stuff?’ It takes more work to have them exit it than to go in.”The organization is getting vaccine doses from Zoetis, an animal health company once part of Pfizer. The company’s vaccine, which has been cleared only for use in animals, sparks immunity against the coronavirus by delivering a piece of the surface protein the virus uses to grab onto and infect cells.

AdvertisementThe vaccine requires two doses, spaced two weeks apart, for full immunity. Once staff finish administering first doses this week, they’ll begin giving out second doses. Three of the tigers that recently tested positive for the coronavirus had received their first vaccine dose days before they tested positive but had not gotten their second shot.

White House says it's seeking more information on 'horrific' footage of Border Patrol agents confronting Haitian immigrants Missouri court asked to suspend law licenses of couple who waved guns at protesters US Capitol rioter who stormed Senate floor reports to prison while trying to undo his felony guilty plea Read more: Los Angeles Times »

Explore With Perseverance

A 3D interactive experience lets you explore with Perseverance, see closeup images the rover has taken, and key points of interest.

🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬 Oh my! Wut about the fishes

San Diego bans firearm parts without serial numbers to combat 'ghost guns'San Diego police say the number of ghost guns they've confiscated is on the rise Registration and insurance. guncontrol so did they publish the report with any of the data to show year after year so we can see it ourselves, saying it's on the rise when we see shit like this on CNN sure isn't inspiring trust in reporting. seems like police are fearmongering to prevent defunding. Can't wait to see this crushed in court

Giant panda in French zoo gives birth to female twinsA French zoo has announced that a giant panda on loan to France from China has given birth to two female twin cubs Wow they already know the baby's gender. Took a while to find out in DC LeslieMarshall I don't know the story but why is a pregnant Animal forced to endure travel & the trauma of change while pregnant? Moving animals around for our human enjoyment is wrong! LeslieMarshall Good lord, the size of that baby.

Giant panda in French zoo gives birth to female twinsPARIS (AP) — A giant panda on loan to France from China gave birth to two female twin cubs early Monday, a French zoo announced, declaring “they are very lively, pink and plump.” The Beauval Zoo, south of Paris, said the twins were born shortly after 1 a.m. 🍼🍼🐼🐼🎉🎉🎉🎉🥳👏👏

Two baby pandas born at France's Beauval zooTwo baby pandas have been born at the Beauval zoo in France, said the zoo on Monday, adding that the newly born animals were in good health. I think you're giving pain to baby panda I think you're giving pain to baby panda I think you're giving pain to baby panda I think you're giving pain to baby panda I think you're giving pain to baby panda

'Vestirse de charro, es vestirse de Mexico': Los charros de San Diego preservan el pasado ranchero de MéxicoUn nuevo grupo cerca de San Ysidro quiere elevar los eventos de cordada y equitación de las charrerías junto con las oportunidades familiares y educativas. good luck

Patra Spanou Film Acquires San Sebastian Competition Title ‘Blue Moon’ (EXCLUSIVE)German sales outfit Patra Spanou Film has acquired the international sales rights to “Blue Moon,” the feature debut of Romanian director Alina Grigore, which will world premiere in main competition…