August 5, 2021

Kansas City Zoo: The top priority of the Kansas City Zoo is the health and safety of our animals, guests, and staff. As the COVID-19 pandemic progressed, the Zoo implemented protocols to keep susceptible animals and their caregivers safe. As vaccines began coming available, our animal health team began reviewing the data to make the best decision for the animals entrusted to our care.

Due to the COVID-19 variants now in our local area and their increased transmissibility, our veterinary team will soon begin the vaccination of some of our animals. Those that will receive the vaccine include our great apes (chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas) and big cats (lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards) as these are the species most susceptible to the virus.

The research shows that this vaccine is safe; more than 11,000 doses have been distributed to nearly 70 zoos in 27 states. The Zoetis vaccine that the Zoo will be using was specifically developed for use with animals and will not affect human vaccine supply.

Our animal care specialists continue to wear appropriate PPE when working around these animals and taking additional preventative measures to reduce any potential exposure. Though there have been COVID-19 cases involving animals at other accredited zoos, there have not been any in Kansas City. Our veterinarians will continue to review the research as it is available and then determine whether to vaccinate other animals.

Face masks are currently required for Zoo guests in all indoor exhibits and spaces, in compliance with the current city mandate. Persons who have disabilities where face coverings or masks constitute a substantial impairment to their health and well-being based upon medical, behavioral, or legal direction are exempt from this policy.