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Zoo Knoxville tigers get COVID-19 vaccines

It's a protein vaccine made purely for animal use that helps animals build an immune response to the virus.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Some of Zoo Knoxville's Malayan tigers just got their COVID-19 vaccines on Friday.

Bashir, Arya and Tanvir all spent time in isolation after catching the virus that causes COVID-19 in late October 2020. They all made a full recovery.

Veterinary doctors said this vaccine is different from the kind given to people. It's a protein vaccine made purely for animal use that helps animals build an immune response to the virus.

"They may feel off for a day or two but that's what I would expect for any vaccine. But we're not seeing any big major side effects at all," said Dr. Andrew Cushing with the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.

Cushing said other animals like the lions, otters, red pandas and gorillas will also be getting their shots soon.

He also said this vaccine could become part of the animals' yearly routine with their other shots like rabies and canine distemper.

"We have plans and protocols in place for each species and this is just going to become part of that," he said.

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