FACT CHECK: No, The Giraffe Deaths At The Dallas Zoo Are Not Connected To COVID-19 Vaccines
A post shared on Facebook claims the deaths of three Dallas Zoo giraffes are connected to receiving COVID-19 vaccines.
The deaths of the three giraffes were unrelated to COVID-19 vaccines. None of the Dallas Zoo’s animals have been vaccinated against COVID-19 at this time.
The Facebook post features a screen grab of an article from NBC DFW titled “Fort Worth, Dallas Zoos Plan to Vaccinate Animals Against COVID-19” and a screen grab of an article from CBS DFW titled “Dallas Zoo Giraffe ‘Jesse’ Passes Away, Marking Zoo’s 3rd Giraffe Death This Month.” Text accompanying the images alleges, “3 giraffes are now dead, one month after getting vaccinated at the Dallas, TX zoo.”
But, contrary to the post’s claim, the three giraffe deaths at the Dallas Zoo aren’t connected in any way to COVID-19 vaccines. The Dallas Zoo said in September that it had asked for COVID-19 vaccines formulated for animals for its big cat and ape populations but was still on a waitlist for the doses, NBC DFW reported. The NBC DFW article does not mention giraffes at any point.
Two of the Dallas Zoo’s giraffes, 14-year-old Jesse and 19-year-old Auggie, passed away in October, with the zoo suspecting a “possible connection” between the deaths due to both exhibiting liver damage, CNN reported. The zoo wrote on Facebook Nov. 1 it was focusing “on the possibility that they were exposed to a toxin of some sort, either through a food source, in the exhibit space, or introduced via a foreign object.” Those two deaths came after another giraffe, a 3-month-old calf, injured its leg and had to be euthanized earlier the same month, according to CNN.
On Tuesday, the zoo wrote on Facebook that it was still investigating the deaths of Jesse and Auggie, saying in part, “We are talking to experts daily & relying on lab results to guide us toward a possible source that would cause the type of liver damage seen in the necropsy in both animals. We still believe exposure to a toxin is a potential connection given the abnormal liver enzymes, but we are exploring every possible cause – from bacteria, to parasite, to diseases.”
The Dallas Zoo confirmed in an email to Check Your Fact that “none of our animals have received the COVID-19 vaccine at this time.” (RELATED: Does This Photo Show A Real 7-Headed Snake?)
“We are still on the waiting list to receive shipments of the vaccine from Zoetis. Once we do receive doses of the vaccine, we will begin vaccinating animals that are known to be at the highest risk of COVID-19, including big cats and great apes,” the zoo’s press team said. “Giraffes were not on our initial list of animals to vaccinate.”