Toronto Zoo brings in mandatory vaccination policy

The move follows news that rare snow leopard died at a South Dakota zoo after exhibiting COVID symptoms


The Toronto Zoo is the latest destination in the city to require all visitors age 12 and up to be fully vaccinated before entering.

Zoo officials announced the policy change on Wednesday, citing the arrival of cooler weather and the susceptibility of several animals to COVID-19.

“While a Zoo visit includes a lot of outdoor space, many animals (including those susceptible to COVID-19) and amenities are located indoors, and as the weather begins to shift, guests will be visiting these indoor locations more frequently,” officials wrote on Twitter.

Animals at the Zoo that could catch COVID include gorillas, orangutans, tigers and lions.

“We must do everything we can to protect our animals and, in particular, endangered species from developing illness due to COVID-19,” the Zoo said.

All visitors, members, contractors and vendors must show proof of full vaccination and ID to enter the Toronto Zoo starting on October 25.

“Our decision to implement this policy is based on many factors, including our responsibility to ensure the safety and protection of our staff, our guests and our animals,” said Dolf DeJong, Toronto Zoo CEO, in a statement. “As a science-based institution, we fully support the evidence that vaccination protects individuals from serious illness and COVID-19 spread.”

The Toronto Zoo’s vax policy comes after the Great Plains Zoo in South Dakota reported that a rare snow leopard died on October 7. The animal exhibited COVID-19 symptoms, including cough, inappetence and lethargy. A tiger at the zoo had tested positive for the virus a day earlier.

In June, two lions died at a zoo in Chennai, India after testing positive for COVID-19.

Ontario enacted proof-of-vaccination system primarily targeting indoor spaces where masks are not always worn on September 22. Patrons visiting several businesses, including restaurants, bars, nightclubs, gyms and cinemas to produce proof of full vaccination before entering.

Essential businesses are exempt from the policy, including supermarkets and pharmacies, as well as restaurant patios and other outdoor spaces.

On October 22, the province will launch an “enhanced vaccine certificate” that will take the form of a unique QR code contained in a new app.

The Toronto Zoo required staff and volunteers to provide proof of vaccination by September 13.

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