Project Chimps

MORGANTON, Ga. (CBS46) — Project Chimps, home to 77 chimpanzees retired from medical research, announced it has become the first sanctuary to vaccinate chimps against COVID-19 Saturday.

This innovative COVID-19 vaccine was uniquely made for animals and has already been used to vaccinate animals at facilities such as the San Diego Zoo and Oakland Zoo.

The recent coronavirus infection in gorillas at the Atlanta Zoo, despite precautions taken by their team, emphasizes why it is important to deliver this vaccine to susceptible animals.

Project Chimps administered its first vaccines to a group of chimps who volunteered for the shot on September 29.

Emma was the first chimp to approach the training station where behaviorist Kate Stiles offered Emma her first of two COVID-19 vaccines. Bo was then second to step up and allowed supervisor Tawnya Williams to deliver his shot. Emma, Bo, and several other chimps participated on 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.

The resident chimpanzees are asked to cooperate in their medical care, which includes receiving injections as needed for routine vaccines or medicines.

As a protected contact facility, all cooperative medical care is performed with a safety barrier separating the caregivers from the animals.

The chimps were rewarded with a special treat for participating in the medical training sessions which lead up to the real medical event.

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