Zoo animals to be vaccinated

Veterinary and zoo experts in favour of vaccination of endangered species in zoos in principle

Veterinary and zoo animal experts met on 30 March to discuss the possibility of vaccination to protect rare and endangered species in zoos in cases where there is a high probability of contracting foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). In principle, none of the experts were against vaccination of endangered species in certain circumstances. However, due to technical and legal uncertainties related to the vaccination of endangered species, experts called for a cautious approach.

International animal health standards for trade set by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) do not have specific rules for zoo animals. Under these standards, the vaccination of zoo animals would affect the FMD status of a country and trade partners might not accept exports of live animals and non-treated products from the country.

The European Commission has written to the OIE requesting an urgent review of the animal health code to take into account the particular situation of vaccinating zoo animals. The issue of zoo vaccination will be discussed again at the next Standing Veterinary Committee meeting on 3 April.

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