SAN ANTONIO —​ The San Antonio Zoo will be receiving and administering COVID-19 vaccines for their animals in the upcoming weeks. The first to get vaccinated include African lions, Sumatran tigers, Francois langur and white-cheeked gibbons.

The vaccine is made specifically for animals and is distributed by the animal health company Zoetis. Experimental use is authorized by the USDA and Texas state veterinarian.

“We are looking to initially vaccinate those species that have been shown to contract COVID-19,” said San Antonio Zoo Director of Veterinary Care Dr. Rob Coke. “Species such as our large and medium cat species, lesser apes, other primates, mongoose, monk, ferrets, and otters are all on our list to vaccinate.  Others will be added to the list as vaccine availability and research progresses.”

The vaccine is similar to the one developed for humans but not identical. Animals will also need a booster shot three weeks after receiving the first dose. 

“We are very excited to be one of the initial zoos in the country to obtain and administer the Zoetis vaccine,” San Antoni Zoo CEO and President Tim Morrow said. “The safety of our animals, guests, and zoo crew is our top priority. Our veterinary and animal care teams have worked incredibly hard to protect and prevent our animals from contracting COVID-19 through increased disinfection, personal protective equipment, and new guest procedures. Vaccinating our animals is one more important step.”

The zoo states it will be carefully monitoring the animals throughout the vaccination process.

According to a Zoetis statement, “at least 75% of emerging infectious diseases have an animal origin, including COVID-19. Now more than ever before, we can all see the important connection between animal health and human health.”