Two Bats Test Positive For Rabies at Great Plains Zoo

For Immediate Release: August 24, 2023
Contact: Tia Kafka - or 
Great Plains Zoo, Denise DePaolo - 


Two Bats Test Positive For Rabies at Great Plains Zoo

Exposed Individuals Asked To Contact Health Officials 


PIERRE, S.D. – The Great Plains Zoo (GPZ) reported two bats on its campus, near the farm, that tested positive for rabies. The bats were found Sunday, August 20, 2023, and were removed from a structure near the farm by animal care staff and transferred to the zoo’s veterinary clinic. The animals were then sent to the South Dakota State University Diagnostic Laboratory for examination and rabies testing.

“Zoo animals, veterinary team members, and designated animal care staff are routinely vaccinated against rabies. There is no concern that the staff who captured or handled the animals were infected, as they are vaccinated and wore proper PPE,” said GPZ veterinarian, Dr. Jenny Clementson.

If you have had contact with bats, please contact the South Dakota Department of Health at 1-800-592-1861, along with your medical provider.

“Animal rabies infections occur each year, with bats making up the majority of animals testing positive,” said Josh Clayton, State Epidemiologist. “If exposed, prompt follow-up with your medical provider to start the four-dose treatment is critical to prevent human rabies.”

Rabies is a fatal, but preventable viral disease. Rabies is contracted by exposure to a rabid animal, typically through a bite. Scratches and saliva contact with broken skin or mucus membranes are also possible routes of transmission. Prompt treatment following exposure can prevent rabies. Treatment includes administration of rabies immune globulin and a series of four doses of vaccine administered in the arm.

Through the end of July 2023, South Dakota has reported 10 rabid animals, eight bats, one skunk, and one cow. Since 2013, 79 bats have tested positive for rabies in the state.

More information about rabies can be found on the Department of Health website.