SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Animals at the Great Plains Zoo have been receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in the past week. 

The zoo is using a COVID-19 animal vaccine developed by Zoetis, which is working with zoos to distribute the limited supply to the most at-risk species. Zoo officials said they have delivered 57 vaccines in just more than a week for primates, large cats and other at-risk animals. 

In October 2021, a 2-year-old snow leopard died after a Amur tiger tested positive for COVID-19. 

“It is a real relief to get our most sensitive animals vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2,” GPZ veterinarian Dr. Louden Wright said in a news release. “Data has shown that vaccination drastically reduces the severity of COVID-19 in humans, and we are optimistic that the same will be true in our zoo animals. Anything we can do to help protect these animals under our care is absolutely worth trying.”

A New Guinea singing dog receives its COVID-19 vaccine. Photo from the Great Plains Zoo.

All animals that receive the first dose will get a second dose around three weeks after the first dose. Officials say any adverse effects will be reported, but so far, there’s been no significant negative effects from the first doses. 

The zoo says additional barriers will remain in place near the Amur tiger enclosure because of their heightened risk to COVID-19.