By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

By Mary Chappell

Chicago (CBS) — Veterinarians have started vaccinating some Brookfield Zoo animals against COVID-19.

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The vaccine — specifically designed for animals — is being administered by Chicago Zoological Society vets, according to a a press release from the Zoological Society. The first animals scheduled for the shot are those more susceptible to contracting the virus, including primates, small carnivores, the zoo’s animal ambassadors, big cats, and bears.

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Francine Lescher, a senior animal care specialist, holds T-Mo, a Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth at Brookfield Zoo, while he receives a COVID-19 vaccine administered by Dr. Mike Adkesson, vice present of clinical medicine for the Chicago Zoological Society. (Credit: Chicago Zoological Society)

The vaccine was donated by Michigan-based animal health company Zoetis. The Zoetis vaccine received investigational authorization by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Illinois state veterinarian, officials said.

Similar to the COVID-19 vaccine for humans, animals will receive two doses three weeks apart and are considered fully protected two weeks following the second dose.

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Kyan, one of Brookfield Zoo’s servals, receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Dr. Mike Adkesson, vice president of clinical medicine for the Chicago Zoological Society. He is assisted by Maggie Chardell, a lead animal care specialist. Due to the respectful and trusting relationships developed between the animals and the care staff, many of the zoo’s animals voluntarily participate in their own health care, including holding still while the vaccination is administered. (Credit: Chicago Zoological Society)

Once the western lowland gorillas and Rodrigues fruit bats have been fully vaccinated, which is expected to be later this fall, the zoo’s Tropic World: Africa section and Australia House will reopen to guests, officials said.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff