Saint Louis Zoo Gorilla ‘Little Joe’ Dies Three Years After Receiving COVID Vaccine

The Saint Louis Zoo has announced the passing of a western lowland gorilla named Little Joe, who died from a heart attack over the weekend.

“It is with incredible sadness that we share news that western lowland gorilla Little Joe, who had been under treatment for heart disease, passed away of a heart attack overnight on May 4th. Based on video monitoring, it appears he died in his sleep,” the zoo said.

“Joe, 26, came to the Saint Louis Zoo in November 2005. He was loved by the primate staff and grabbed the heart of all those who saw or met him, frequently hanging out near guest viewing areas to people watch. Joe has been an integral part of the Zoo’s bachelor gorilla group since he arrived, most recently getting to know juvenile males Kayin and Zachary as they settled into their new home, as well as hanging out with his long-time gorilla buddy, Bakari.”

Little Joe’s passing comes after the Saint Louis Zoo announced in 2021 that they would be vaccinating animals against COVID.

“Over the next few months, the Zoo plans to administer the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine in a staged roll-out to almost 100 primates, big cats, river otters, painted dogs and bat-eared foxes, all of which carry a potential risk of being infected by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease. Doses are given three weeks apart and full vaccination is reached two weeks after the second dose,” the zoo said at the time.

“Zoetis, a global animal health company headquartered in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and the distributor of the vaccine, has donated 11,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to dozens of zoos, including the Saint Louis Zoo, and animal organizations across the nation.”

“Experimental use of this COVID-19 vaccine from Zoetis is authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Missouri State Veterinarian,” they continued.