Colchester Zoo says it will not be vaccinating its apes “at this stage” following reports some at a US zoo received Covid-19 vaccines made for animals.

Orangutans and bonobos at the San Diego Zoo received a coronavirus vaccine after some zoo gorillas tested positive for Covid-19 in January.

The jabs were given to the great apes after drug company Zoetis said it received a request for emergency doses after coughing gorillas tested positive for coronavirus.

The animals – five bonobos and four orangutans – have been given two jabs, authorities confirmed.

It turned out they had contracted Covid-19 from an asymptomatic keeper, raising fears that apes could be particularly vulnerable to coronavirus.

But the gibbons, chimpanzees and orangutans – the apes at Colchester Zoo – will not be vaccinated “at this stage”.

The zoo said it is focusing on procedures to help prevent transmission.

A spokesman said: “We have a risk assessment in place of which all the keepers are aware of and they know to take additional precautions when working with their animals.

“We wear masks if we have to get close to them for veterinary procedures or training and hand washing and good hygiene.

“We also do a check of staff health every morning before they start work to ensure no one has any symptoms of Covid-19 and are monitoring all the animals closely for any signs.

“We have had no signs of Covid in any of our animals here at the Zoo and continue to follow procedures that we have always had in place to help prevent disease transmission and will not be vaccinating our apes at this stage.”

Last month the zoo put out a plea for the public’s support after revealing their emergency fund is empty.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March last year, the zoo has struggled and has been surviving on limited funds since its forced closure.

Like other zoos in the country, Colchester Zoo has not had the steady stream of visitors it normally has but has still had to incur the same running costs.