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Garden City zoo planning to vaccinate animals against COVID-19

Logo for Garden City's Lee Richardson Zoo.
Logo for Garden City's Lee Richardson Zoo.(Lee Richardson Zoo Facebook page)
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 6:17 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Garden City’s Lee Richardson Zoo announced that it is working toward vaccinating some of its animals against COVID-19. The zoo said since the first tiger at a zoo in New York tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, zoo staffs have been managing animals with precautions in place, but cases are still happening throughout zoos across the U.S. and some cases have been fatal.

The Lee Richardson Zoo explained that the animal-specific version of the coronavirus vaccine will consist of a two-dose series it hopes to start next month. The zoo said it’s in the process of acquiring 10 doses of the vaccine. While the zoo said it has more than 10 susceptible animals , its staff has prioritized the larger fields based on a risk assessment. Until the vaccine is received, the zoo said its staff is working with the animals on voluntarily accepting injections.

“Our lions have recently exhibited some sneezes, coughs, and nasal discharge and their energy level and appetite has been down. Tests to confirm the coronavirus have not been done but all precautions are in place and the cats are being closely monitored. Each cat is presenting a little differently so they’re each being treated individually based on their needs,” said Lee Richardson Zoo Director Kristi Newland. “Zoos are really good about sharing information so based on previous cases at other facilities, there’s information that we can pull from. Based on the current veterinary assessment these are mild cases and the cats are getting better.”

The zoo said Zoetis, a leader in the pharmaceutical market for pets and livestock made the vaccine to be given to lions, leopards and jaguars at the Lee Richardson Zoo.

“More of the zoo residents may be vaccinated once more vaccine is available,” the Lee Richardson Zoo explained in a news release. Although the animals can contract the virus from humans, there is no evidence that they spread the virus to their caregivers or zoo visitors.”

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