COVID: No plans to vaccinate animals at Mandai Wildlife Group's Singapore zoo, parks

·Senior Reporter
·2-min read
Visitors wearing face masks tour the Singapore Zoo on July 6, 2020. The Singapore Zoo reopened to the public on Monday after the easing of lockdown measures in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Then Chih Wey/Xinhua via Getty Images)
Visitors wearing face masks tour the Singapore Zoo on 6 July, 2020. (Xinhua via Getty Images file photo)

SINGAPORE — The Mandai Wildlife Group has no plans currently to vaccinate animals across its four wildlife parks against COVID-19, said a spokesperson on Tuesday (9 November).

In response to queries from Yahoo News Singapore, the group said none of the animals in its parks – Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Wonders, and Singapore Zoo – are vaccinated against the coronavirus.

"More understanding of the safety and efficacy of vaccination for animals is needed and Mandai Wildlife Group is checking in with global zoo counterparts who have started trialling vaccinations for some of their high-profile animals," the spokesperson added.

On Tuesday, the group and the Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS) confirmed that four Asiatic lions at the Night Safari had exhibited mild respiratory symptoms and later tested positive for COVID-19, following exposure to infected staff members.

It was the first time that any animal at the Mandai Wildlife Group's four wildlife parks was confirmed to be infected with the disease.

Zoos and wildlife parks across the US have increasingly chosen to vaccinate their animals against the virus, some after reporting cases of infection among their mammals.

According to a Washington Post report on 25 October, over 50 animals, including mountain lions, tigers, and bears at the Oakland Zoo in California have been inoculated with at least one dose of a vaccine made by US-based company Zoetis.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium in California has also vaccinated eight sea otters using the same vaccine with two doses each. 

Meanwhile, the Akron Zoo in Ohio said it is vaccinating 16 species they consider “COVID-vulnerable”, after five lions at the zoo tested positive for the disease. These include leopards, gibbons, lemurs, fruit bats, skunks, goats, and alpacas.

The animal vaccine by Zoetis, a former Pfizer subsidiary known for manufacturing animal drugs, shares some similarities with those made for humans but are developed differently.

It is not mRNA-based but rather employs a viral spike protein created in a lab – a technique that Zoetis has used before to create vaccines for animals across many species.

The animal vaccine has been approved for use across many species, from the zoo’s mountain lions and gibbons to its fruit bats and wolves.

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