On par with Dane County’s human population, 80% of local zoo animals have received the COVID-19 vaccine

MADISON, Wis.– Whether you have two legs or four, hair or needles, you are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. And Henry Vilas Zoo staff reminded both humans and animals of that this weekend, at a pop-up clinic.

An estimated 250 kids, adults, and animals received their first, second, or booster doses Saturday at the Madison zoo.

“Considering kids over the age of 5 are now eligible for the vaccine, we thought this was a place they’d feel more comfortable,” said Kristin Moala, of the zoo’s decision to host a vaccine clinic.

Like humans, many species can catch COVID, including big cats, primate, river otters, skunks, and even badgers. That’s why zoo trainers started vaccinating animals a few weeks ago, using a special strain of the vaccine, as to not take away from the ‘human’ supply.

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“Most of the time, a lion will come over and let their trainer vaccine them in exchange for a meatball or something,” explained Moala. “It’s an entirely voluntary process. They can walk away whenever.”

Similar to Dane County’s human population, around 80% of the animals at Henry Vilas have made the choice to get the vaccine. Species are trained to receive other regular vaccines, as well, including rabies shots.

“It goes to show our animals are not that different from humans,” said Moala. “We all still need to take COVID seriously.”

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