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Columbus Zoo, The Wilds to vaccinate high-risk animals against COVID-19

Some animals at the Columbus Zoo and The Wilds will soon receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Some animals at the Columbus Zoo and The Wilds will soon receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The zoo announced Monday it will prioritize select animals that are considered high-risk, such as great apes like gorillas and orangutans, and big cats like lions, tigers, leopards and cheetahs. 

According to zoo officials, the animals were chosen based on scientific evidence showing their species is more at risk of contracting the virus. 

The vaccines have not yet arrived at the zoo. When they do, they will be administered in two doses over a three-week period.

“Our goal is to provide the best care for all the animals at the Zoo and The Wilds. While we don’t have the vaccine in-house yet, we have thoughtfully mapped out a plan once it arrives,” said Dr. Randy Junge, vice president of animal health at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. “This proactive approach allows us to protect those species who are susceptible to the virus. It’s another layer of protection for them, our staff and guests.” 

According to the zoo, many of its animals are trained to receive vaccinations voluntarily. 

"This is a win-win situation for the animals and staff because it is a positive experience and reduces stress for both," said Dr. Priscilla H. Joyner, director or animal health at The Wilds. 

As of Monday's announcement, the zoo says there have been no reports of any animals testing positive for COVID-19.