Even though Ontario premier Doug Ford announced on Tuesday that the province’s vaccine passport system is over, the Toronto Zoo has said it will continue checking visitors’ proof of vaccination to keep its animals safe.
In a statement posted online, the zoo stated that concerns about animals catching COVID-19 were behind the decision and that vaccine passports will remain until at least the end of April.
“We understand that high community vaccination rates continue to reduce the risk of serious illness in humans,” the statement said.
“Your Toronto Zoo’s animals remain vulnerable to the risks of COVID-19 infection, and as such we will continue to employ all measures that ensure their continued protection and wellbeing. Your Zoo is working towards vaccinating our COVID-19 susceptible species.”
According to government data, the risk of transmission from animals to humans is very uncommon and the general risk to the population extremely low. The only confirmed global reports of COVID-19 passing between humans and animals have been from mink farms.
“In these situations, workers have infected mink, and then mink have spread the virus back to other people. Recent reports have identified possible animal-to-human transmission from hamsters (Hong Kong) and suspected animal-to-human transmission from a deer (Canada),” the Government of Canada wrote.
The Ontario government has lifted proof of COVID-19 vaccination requirements for most settings including restaurants, gyms and movie theatres. Capacity limits have also been lifted on social gatherings, concerts and sporting venues.
Masking is expected to remain in place for at least a couple more weeks.
According to zoo officials, the animals are expected to receive the COVID vaccine by April 30, at which time staff “will review our practices moving forward.”
“Without a clear understanding of the ongoing risk to our animals, we will continue with our current practices, including requiring proof of vaccine, mandatory masking, and all other COVID-19 health and safety measures,” the zoo’s statement continued.
Although almost all the provinces have moved forward with abandoning COVID-19 measures, the federal government has yet to drop travel restrictions that bar unvaccinated Canadians from boarding a plane or train domestically and internationally.
The Liberals have recently eased travel rules for vaccinated passengers. As of Monday, vaccinated Canadians will be randomly selected for arrival testing.
While awaiting for their test results, Canadians are also no longer required to quarantine.