Some of the gorillas at a San Diego Zoo will get a COVID-19 vaccine after a group of them became infected with the virus, officials said.
San Diego Safari Park executive director Lisa Peterson said that a supply of the vaccine not permitted for use in people will be given to a few of the apes, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
“The hope is that we would be able to vaccinate wildlife that would be susceptible to illness and then prevent them from ever catching it,” Peterson told the paper.
The vaccination plans come after eight western lowland gorillas at the zoo tested positive for the virus earlier this month.
The gorillas were likely exposed to a zookeeper who contracted the virus the newspaper reported.
The zoo said veterinarians have been closely observing the gorillas, who are “on their way to a full recovery.”
Winston, who is an elderly silverback gorilla, was given a monoclonal antibody therapy, which is also not permitted for use in humans.
The specialists had been concerned about him due to his advanced age and other medical conditions, including heart disease and pneumonia.
The zoo said the treatment helped mimic the ape’s natural defenses in fighting the virus.
“The veterinary team who treated Winston believe the antibodies may have contributed to his ability to overcome the virus,” the zoo said.