Zoo Critters Up-to-Date on Shots

To ensure the safety of its visitors, the Good Zoo at Oglebay Park vaccinates its mammals and primates against rabies and its birds against the West Nile virus.

Zoo Director Penny Miller said last year a worker at the zoo was scratched by a komodo dragon’s tooth. But since reptiles do not carry rabies, it did not have to be tested for rabies. The worker only needed antibiotics since it was a minor scratch.

“She did not need stitches. It was small scratch,” Miller said. “Komodo dragons’ saliva have a lot of bacteria.”

The female komodo dragon at the zoo is slated to go live at Busch Gardens, while the male komodo dragon already has been transferred to the Chaffee Zoo in Fresno, Calif. Miller said the zoo cannot keep the reptiles after they reach a certain size because they do not have enough space inside. Komodo dragons can reach 9 feet in length. The zoo is expected to receive two new baby komodo dragons in the future.

Miller said the zoo works hard to keep its visitors and workers safe. For example, some employees who work directly with animals receive the rabies vaccination.

“All Good Zoo mammals that spend time outside or are handled by zoo workers or guests are vaccinated for rabies as part of the zoo’s comprehensive veterinary care program to ensure the health of the animal collection, workers and guests,” she said.

Rabies is carried only by mammals, primarily bats and carnivores such as dogs, cats, foxes, skunks and raccoons. Cows, horses, goats and sheep can also carry the disease, she said.

“All animal owners should vaccinate their dogs, cats and farm hoof stock for rabies,” Miller said.

She said according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 99 percent of human rabies deaths worldwide are caused by rabid dogs.