Training for Intranasal and Oral Swabs to Test for COVID-19


Course Overview:

Prepared By:

Barbara Heidenreich

Annette Pedersen Animal Training Coordinator Copenhagen Zoo

Featuring Training Examples and Support From:

Barbara Heidenreich

Rasmus Bak Pedersen Copenhagen Zoo

Nadja Viftrup Søndergaard Copenhagen Zoo

Henrik Sonne Futtrup Copenhagen Zoo

Zaco Sonne Futtrup Copenhagen Zoo

Mads Frost Bertelsen DVM DVSc Dipl ACZM Copenhagen Zoo

Carsten Grøndahl DVM, PHD Copenhagen Zoo

Colleen Reed Oregon Zoo

Scott Jackson Oregon Zoo


There have been a number of voluntary behaviors used to manage animal health and welfare that have become standard training goals for animals in managed care. Some of these include training animals to stand on scales, hold position for hand injections, present hooves for trimming, and blood collection among others. With the introduction of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV2, we believe it is time to consider adding voluntary intranasal and/or oral swabs as behaviors to practice regularly especially with those species most vulnerable to the virus.

Animal Training Consultant Barbara Heidenreich, Annette Pedersen (Animal Training Coordinator at the Copenhagen Zoo),  Veterinary Staff and Zookeepers from the Copenhagen Zoo have collaborated to create the following course. We are very happy to share this (and encourage sharing) so that other zoos can utilize this information to easily collect samples as needed.

Please Note: The video examples presented here may not represent species most vulnerable to SARS CoV2. Some of the species were included to demonstrate how to apply the shaping plans.

Disclaimer: Information provided is not a substitute for veterinary advice. The authors recommend consulting with your veterinary professional before training this behavior with the animals in your care. There may be specific requirements for the species and individuals to be addressed that this general course and shaping plans do not cover. Information is accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication which is February 2, 2021.

DOWNLOADS for shaping plans and images can be found on this page.

Learn more about SARS CoV2 in our other free course Training Mammals with Social Distancing

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Lessons in this Course:

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