Philadelphia Zoo could soon be vaccinating animals against COVID-19

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Lions, tigers, and apes at the Philadelphia Zoo could soon be among the millions vaccinated against COVID-19.

The zoo is one of 85 institutions around the country waiting to take part in a new experimental vaccine program.

The Director of Animal Health for the zoo says though none of their animals have been infected, they want to protect them from a disease that has proven fatal at zoos overseas.

The shots, made by pharmaceutical company Zoetis, will be given to the animals most likely to become seriously ill if they contracted COVID-19 from a human.

"That would be our great apes and then other primates because they're pretty closely related to people. And then, interestingly, the big cats and other carnivores," said Dr. Keith Hinshaw, director of Animal Health at the Philadelphia Zoo.

As the zoo awaits doses of the vaccine, Hinshaw stressed the most important way to help protect the animals is for people to get vaccinated to cut down on any potential exposure.

Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.