If you’re a pet owner, you are very familiar with the importance of vaccinations. The annual trip to the veterinarian’s office for a routine check up often includes one or more vaccines to keep your pet protected and up to date. As children, many of us also went through a series of routine vaccinations to help protect us from a variety of diseases.
The idea of a vaccination is to expose the animal (or person’s) immune system to a disease in a controlled way to encourage the body to build up its defenses against that organism. That way, if the patient is exposed to that disease later in life, the body will be familiar enough with the disease to mount a strong defense.
Vaccinations have helped to greatly reduce the occurrence of many diseases and allow for protection against other diseases that could in some cases be potentially deadly.
Many of the animals here at the zoo have routine vaccine schedules. Our Maned Wolves receive some of the same vaccines as many domestic dogs. Our Lions, Snow Leopards and Cougars are vaccinated for some diseases that affect domestic cats, but also some that affect domestic dogs. Our hoofstock and some of our birds here at the zoo also receive regularly scheduled vaccines.
One of the important jobs for Zoo Veterinarians and Veterinary Technicians is to keep track of these schedules so that patients stay up to date and protected from these diseases. It also becomes important to research each species to be able to provide for its specific needs.