News Release
 
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351, sondra.katzen@czs.org
 
September 7, 2021
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
NOTE: Download photos at end of press release.

 
Brookfield Zoo Beginning to Vaccinate Its High-Risk Animals Against COVID-19
 

Brookfield, Ill. —Chicago Zoological Society veterinarians have begun administering a COVID-19 vaccine to animals at Brookfield Zoo. Veterinarians are first vaccinating those species that are known to be more susceptible to contracting the virus. The novel COVID-19 vaccine, which is designed specifically for animals, was donated by the Michigan-based animal health company Zoetis.

“The health and well-being of the animals at Brookfield Zoo is always our leading priority, and the threat of COVID-19 to humans and animals is interconnected,” said Dr. Mike Adkesson, vice president of clinical medicine for the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo. “We know a variety of animal species can transmit and become sick from coronaviruses. Vaccinating animals is not only important for their own health, but healthy animals help keep humans healthy too. The health of humans, animals, and the environment are intertwined. Most emerging infectious diseases have an animal origin. Ensuring animals in professional care are protected from the virus is another step toward curbing the pandemic here in Illinois, the U.S., and globally.”

The Zoetis COVID-19 vaccine received investigational authorization by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Illinois state veterinarian. Zoetis’ research and development team applied decades of experience developing other coronaviral vaccines for cats, dogs, poultry, and cattle to create a COVID-19 vaccine uniquely formulated for animal species. Much like the COVID vaccination schedule for humans, animals will receive two doses, three weeks apart, and animals are considered fully protected two weeks following the second dose. The zoo will also continue to work with Zoetis to coordinate and closely monitor its animals throughout the vaccination process.

The zoo’s veterinary team developed a tiered priority schedule for the vaccine rollout. Animals first scheduled to get inoculated include primates, small carnivores, the zoo’s animal ambassadors, big cats, and bears. Due to the respectful and trusting relationships developed between the animals and care staff, many of the zoo’s animals voluntarily participate in their own health care, in this case holding still while veterinary staff administers the vaccination.

Once the western lowland gorillas and Rodrigues fruit bats have been fully vaccinated, which is expected to be later this fall, the zoo’s Tropic World: Africa section and Australia House will reopen to guests.

 
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Photo Captions—credit Cathy Bazzoni/CZS-Brookfield Zoo
08: Kyan, one of Brookfield Zoo’s servals, receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Dr. Mike Adkesson, vice president of clinical medicine for the Chicago Zoological Society. He is assisted by Maggie Chardell, a lead animal care specialist. Due to the respectful and trusting relationships developed between the animals and the care staff, many of the zoo’s animals voluntarily participate in their own health care, including holding still while the vaccination is administered.
 
21: Sandy, a binturong at Brookfield Zoo, receives a COVID-19 vaccine administered by Dr. Mike Adkesson, vice president of clinical medicine for the Chicago Zoological Society, and assisted by Maggie Chardell and Craig Stevens, lead animal care specialists.
 
35: Francine Lescher, a senior animal care specialist, holds T-Mo, a Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth at Brookfield Zoo, while he receives a COVID-19 vaccine administered by Dr. Mike Adkesson, vice present of clinical medicine for the Chicago Zoological Society.


About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. The zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit CZS.org.
 

MEDIA CONTACT:

Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071
E-mail: Sondra.Katzen@CZS.org

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