News & Politics

The National Zoo’s Animals Are Starting to Get the Covid Vaccine

Great apes and monkeys got the shot while the Covid-afflicted big cats continue to recover.

Orangutan Kyle has received his first dose of the vaccine. Photo by Becky Malinsky, Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

Eleven of the National Zoo’s primates have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, the Zoo announced on Friday. The zoo’s residents are receiving a vaccine specifically manufactured for animals by veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis.

Two emperor tamarins, one gorilla, seven orangutans, and one white-eared titi monkey got the jab on Wednesday with no reported side effects. The great apes and monkeys will also be inoculated with a second dose, similar to humans receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Vaccinations are being administered while nine of the zoo’s big cats continue to recover from Covid. The felines will also be able to receive the vaccine ninety days after they test negative for the virus. Not every animal at the zoo will receive a vaccine, only those which are defined as “susceptible species.”

Animal health company Zoetis has committed to donating 11,000 doses of the vaccine to zoos and animal conservatories around the country, including the National Zoo and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.




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Daniella Byck
Assistant Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied journalism and digital culture.