MORGANTON, Ga. - A chimpanzee sanctuary in Georgia said a donation from an animal healthcare company helped protect some of its primates against the virus that causes COVID-19.
A veterinary care team at Project Chimps, which houses 77 chimpanzees retired from medical research, vaccinated some of its residents with a COVID-19 vaccine made for animals and donated by the animal health company Zoetis.
Project Chimps vaccinated a group of chimps who "volunteered" on Sept 29.
According to a Project Chimps spokesperson, a chimpanzee named Emma was the first to approach an area where behaviorist Kate Stiles offered her first of two COVID-19 vaccines.
Another chimp, Bo, then allowed supervisor Tawnya Williams to inoculate him. A spokesperson said several other chimps participated in this first of an estimated 15 rounds of vaccination sessions to ensure all the chimps will receive both doses of the vaccine, three weeks apart.
"We are proud to help the veterinary team at Project Chimps with a vaccine to help protect their chimpanzees from COVID-19," said Dr. Mahesh Kumar, Senior Vice President, Global Biologics at Zoetis. "Based on our belief that healthier animals help create a healthier world, we are committed to use our expertise in animal health to help solve sustainability challenges facing animals and people. Specifically, we aspire to combat diseases that pose the greatest risk to animals and humans."
Project Chimps said the sanctuary has not had any known cases of animals infected with COVID-19.
"I am so proud of our team for preparing the chimps to volunteer for their vaccines," said Ali Crumpacker, Executive Director at Project Chimps. "It has been a lot of work and in the long run, will ensure we have done everything we can to protect the chimps during this pandemic. We could not have focused on these training sessions without the support of our donors who ensure we have the funds necessary to support our staff who in turn care for the chimps."
Project Chimps is a privately-funded sanctuary in the Blue Ridge Mountains and its residents range in age from 10 to 41. The home for former laboratory chimps provides a habitat for them to forage, play and socialize outdoors, similar to the way wild chimps do.