CINCINNATI, OH (October 18, 2021) — It’s National Veterinary Technician Week, and Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s vet techs deserve a huge pat on the back for doing double duty during the past six weeks to give 80 animals two rounds of SARS-COV-2 shots!
“We have three technicians (Amy Long, Jenny Kroll, and Janell Duvall), and they have their hands full with their regular routines and workloads,” said Cincinnati Zoo’s director of animal health, Dr. Mark Campbell. “Adding the task of vaccinating dozens of animals, located all over the Zoo’s campus, to their plates was a big request. Not surprisingly, they rolled up their sleeves and got busy, working quickly to ensure that each multi-dose vaccine container was used within 24 hours of opening and kept at the desired temperature at all times.”
In the months before the vaccine arrived, the vet techs and zookeepers worked to get the animals that would be receiving shots comfortable with everything that they would see and feel when they got the injections. As a result, they were able to administer most of the vaccinations without anesthesia! Twice!
“We usually have a year for the animals that receive flu shots and other routine annual vaccinations to forget about the sting, but the second COVID shots had to be given within three weeks of the first,” said Campbell. “We were concerned that the fresh memory of the first injection would make animals less willing to offer a shoulder or thigh for the second round, but they did! That success is 100% due to the strong relationships these animals have with care staff and our animal health team.”
The team has given at least one vaccination dose to big cats, great apes (gorillas, bonobos, orangutans), red pandas, goats, giraffe, river otters, skunks, bearcats and domestic dogs and cats that more commonly share space with humans. They’ll be finishing up second doses this week and the following week.
No negative reactions to the vaccinations have been observed, but the animal care teams will continue to monitor health and immunity response of the vaccinated animals and share observations and data with Zoetis (zō-EH-tis), the organization that provided the vaccine. Vet techs will remain busy as they perform regular blood draws for this important research.