Vaccines may not protect exotic animals

Amarillo Zoo chooses to vaccinate its exotic animals regularly at Noah's Ark Pet Hospital.

Officials at the Amarillo Zoo said a zoo is not required to vaccinate its exotic animals, and choosing to do so doesn't always mean the vaccination is 100 percent effective.

Curator Rhonda Votino said the Amarillo Zoo chooses to vaccinate its animals, and the process is similar to what cats and dogs receive.

"If it's a dog-cousin like a fox, they receive the same vaccination a dog would get," Votino said.

Veterinarian of Noah's Ark Pet Hospital Dr. Merten Pearson said there's not a big enough market to develop vaccines for exotic animals, therefore the vaccines used on these animals may or may not protect them from possible threats.

"I would rather that they have the vaccine and hope that they get the protection," Pearson said. "But the zoo understands that I can't sit here and say "I can guarantee that this animal will never get rabies because it has a rabies vaccine.'"

He said because there is no actual licensed vaccine that exits, he takes full responsibility as the licensed veterinarian. However he said the Amarillo Zoo already takes some of the best precautions to protect their animals.

"The Amarillo Zoo has the right kind of fencing, the right kind of protocols and rules that protect their animals," Pearson said. "The economics are just not there to provide vaccines for every species.