The claim: Three giraffes died soon after vaccinated against COVID-19 at the same zoo, with the vaccination being the most likely reason. The facts: Before they died, none of the giraffes had vaccinated.
Three giraffes died in the span of a month at the Dallas Zoo’s extremely tall animal department in October. Anti-vaxxers have seized on the deaths, alleging the vaccination was responsible, or at the very least the most likely cause, and blaming the zoo.
By mixing tales of the giraffes’ deaths with claims that the zoo will be vaccinating certain animals, memes have propagated the notion. One notable conspiracy theorist remarked on Telegram, “Sounds like vaccination the animals made them ill and feeble.”
The famous DarkHorse podcast has helped spread information on COVID-19’s origins and vaccine hazards, as well as promoting the use of ivermectin to combat the virus. The co-hosts lampoon the concept that the animals’ deaths may have been caused by something other than the vaccination in episode 103.
When the hosts informed that the giraffes had not vaccinated, instead of acknowledging their error, they attacked fact-checkers on the following show. Despite the zoo’s specific claims, co-host Heather Heying remarked, “Most people who are fact-checking don’t know what science is, so they shouldn’t be in the position of saying what is and isn’t accurate.”
In fact, the Dallas Zoo is still waiting for immunizations for its animals. Those who know to sensitive to COVID-19 will first in line when they arrive, Giraffes are exempt, partly because their heads are above the majority of virus particles ejected, but largely because they and their closest relatives appear to be immune. According to the Associated Press, “there haven’t been any reported occurrences in hoofstock species.”
The other two giraffes had dysfunctional livers as well, but the zoo has yet to determine if there was a common cause. On its Facebook page, the zoo ascribed Auggie’s death to “age-related health conditions that led to liver failure.”
Jesse, the latest giraffe to pass away, was just 14 years old when he died, and early blood tests revealed “abnormal liver enzymes.” Rather than leaping to conclusions, the zoo is looking at a variety of possibilities. “At this time, while we assume the two fatalities are linked, we are still seeking clear confirmation,” the statement stated. Although many factors may cause liver failure, one of them is a vaccination that neither giraffe had gotten.
When Dallas and other zoos do vaccinate their animals, they will not use Pfizer or AstraZeneca’s versions, instead opting for a Zoetis product, which specializes in non-human animal pharmaceuticals. While immunizations have not killed giraffes, three snow leopards died lately from problems probably caused by the illness itself, bringing the endangered animal one-step closer to extinction.