Toronto Zoo Is Vaccinating Its Animals Against COVID-19 & Some Critters Will Get Priority

It will be one of the six zoos in Canada to do so.

Toronto Associate Editor
Toronto Zoo Is Vaccinating Its Animals Against COVID-19 & Some Critters Will Get Priority

The Toronto Zoo is on track to give their animals COVID-19 vaccines.

A spokesperson for the Toronto Zoo confirmed with Narcity that it will be one of the six zoos across Canada to provide doses to their animals as soon as it becomes available.

"Unfortunately, at this point we have been given no further information, including any indication of timing," Toronto Zoo's media relations coordinator, Amy Naylor, told Narcity via email.

"We do know our animals that are particularly sensitive to [COVID-19] will be a priority, which includes primates, cats, and swine."

On October 22, Dolf DeJong, the CEO of the Toronto Zoo, shared with Narcity that there are 140 animals that are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines. Among that group are gorillas and orangutans, lions, tigers, snow leopards, red river hogs, black-footed ferrets, and bats.

"People often miss that these animals are so much like us; the primates, the orangutans, we share a lot of that genetic material there. They can be prone to respiratory illness," DeJong previously told Narcity. "When you have North America's oldest orangutan and a 29-year-old orangutan who's pregnant, of course, you're going to bring these tools into play to look after their well-being."

Sekali is expected to give birth sometime this upcoming April, while 54-years-old Puppe is currently the oldest Sumatran orangutan in the entire continent.

According to CityNews Toronto, the vaccines that will reportedly be offered to these Canadian zoos are coming from Zoetis, an American-based veterinary pharmaceutical company. Zoetis apparently offered to give about 900 doses to the six zoos, which will reportedly be enough for 450 animals.

A Zoetis spokesperson told The Ottawa Citizen that the vaccine is not yet commercially available in the country but has apparently been authorized for experimental use by the Canadian Centre for Veterinary Biologics of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and it has a permit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The COVID-19 vaccines will reportedly be given to these zoos sometime by the end of the year.

Narcity reached out to Zoetis but did not immediately hear back before publication.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Alex Arsenych
Toronto Associate Editor