The Toronto Zoo is planning to vaccinate its animals against COVID-19 ​

TORONTO — For months, Toronto residents have been highly encouraged to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations, but now, even some of the city’s animals could be getting the jab.

Toronto Zoo CEO Dolf DeJong told CTV News Toronto on Thursday that they’re waiting for Canadian approval of a COVID-19 vaccine currently being administered to American zoo animals.

“What we’ve seen in accredited zoos in the United States is a vaccine being deployed that is providing a level of protection [against COVID-19] … We definitely are looking to add this tool to our toolbox and add this extra level of protection for animals as soon as it’s approved for use in Canada,” he said.

DeJong says he’s looking forward to the extra level of protection, especially for the zoo’s more vulnerable animals.

“Animals like gorillas and orangutans, which are so similar to us as humans, in some cases are prone to respiratory illness — adding this extra level of protection is so key,” he said.

“​​We have North America’s oldest orangutan in our care [and] a 29-year-old orangutan who’s pregnant.”

DeJong said that the zoo will aim to vaccinate all primates, big cats, swine, bats and mustelidae — a family of mammals including weasels, badgers, otters, ferrets, martens, minks and wolverines, among others.

“There’s 140 of them here that are on the list that we want to again get those shots and get them inoculated,” he said.

When the vaccine is approved, DeJong says he is confident that his team will have no issues administering it.

“The great part about the animals in our care is a lot of them are actually trained to receive injections,” he said.

“We know our team and our animals will be ready as soon as those approvals are in place.”

The Toronto Zoo currently requires all eligible visitors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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