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Great Apes Get Shots, Too

Nine great apes living at the San Diego Zoo have been vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, National Geographic reports.

In January, the zoo reported that a troop of about eight Western lowland gorillas tested positive for the virus and exhibited symptoms including coughing. They are thought to have caught SARS-CoV-2 from an asymptomatic zoo worker.

"That made us realize that our other apes were at risk," Nadine Lamberski, chief conservation and wildlife health officer for the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, tells the San Diego Union-Tribune. "We wanted to do our best to protect them from this virus because we don't really know how it's going to impact them."

According to National Geographic, nine great apes — four orangutans and five bonobos — have now been given two doses of an experimental vaccine developed by a veterinary pharmaceutical company. The Union-Tribune notes that the vaccine from Zoetis has also been tested in cats, dogs, and minks and is not authorized for use in people. It adds that the orangutans and bonobos haven't had visible side effects, other than rubbing their heads or injection sites.

The Associated Press adds that three other bonobos and a gorilla are expected to also be vaccinated.