Cat and dog Covid vaccine given to orangutan at San Diego Zoo

This is a quick note to record the fact that San Diego Zoo has vaccinated 9 apes, one of them an orangutan named Karen, against Covid-19. The connection to cats is that the vaccine was developed by Zoetis with cats and dogs in mind.

Karen an organgutan first non-human primate to be vaccinated against Covid-19
Karen an organgutan first non-human primate to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Photo: San Diego Zoo.

The reason for the vaccinations? Their lowland gorillas caught the virus. There is a discussion about the potential for animals to form a reservoir for the virus. This is the first time non-human primates have been vaccinated for this virus.

All nine apes have had both doses. No adverse side-affects have been noted. A 49-year-old silverback gorilla got the virus last month and suffered from pneumonia. He's recovering after receiving experimental antibody treatment. Eight other gorillas are also recovering after falling ill.

Karen is a Sumatran orangutan born at the zoo on 27 August 1994. She is the first orangutan to have open heart surgery.

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