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How Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo vaccinates its animals against COVID-19

Director of Animal Health Dr. Tim Storms said vaccinating animals is important because COVID-19 can hit some of them harder than others.

SEATTLE — Lions, tigers, gorillas and more at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo are receiving their COVID-19 vaccine.

The zoo's Director of Animal Health Dr. Tim Storms said vaccinating animals is important because COVID-19 can hit some of them harder than others, with big cats and gorillas, particularly at risk. COVID-19 symptoms can be the same as in humans.

The animals aren't receiving Pfizer or Moderna vaccines but instead a vaccine produced by a company called Zoetis, which is made specifically for animals. Zoetis has donated over 10,000 doses to zoos across the country, according to Storms.

Storms said the zoo is vaccinating nearly 50 animals at the zoo with 10 receiving their second vaccination Thursday.

The zoo is focusing on vaccinated animal groups that are most known to be infected including apes, big cats, otters, ferrets, and canines, such as wolves and foxes.

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Animal Care Manager Rachel Salant joined KING 5 Mornings with a seven-year-old North American porcupine, Skyaãna.

Salant said the zoo uses "snack packs" to train the animals for ambassadorship programs or for health-related things like vaccinations.

The animals are also warmed up to the vaccination process by introducing a fake syringe and practice pokes to start off with a positive association and to make sure the animals are comfortable, according to Salant.

Storms said animals don't have a sense of fear or negative association with syringes themselves and that it's really a process of getting them used to the sensation before the vaccination.

Meet Skyaãna in the video below.

   

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