The Wilder Institute-Calgary Zoo is asking visitors to continue masking up to protect its gorilla troop — particularly mom-to-be, Dossi.
In a news release, the zoo said there are concerns about the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to the gorillas.
Being close relatives to humans, great apes are highly susceptible to the virus and the zoo hasn’t been able to secure a vaccine for the animals.
“We know our visitors love the endangered animals we love and care for,” said Jamie Dorgan, director of animal care, health and welfare.
“We have been taking extra precautions for seven months to help Dossi have a successful pregnancy — from additional biosecurity to world-class maternal care and working with the entire gorilla troop to be prepared for all possible scenarios. We are asking visitors to continue to wear masks inside the Rainforest building to help protect Dossi and other troop members from a potential COVID transmission which could have a devastating effect on her precious pregnancy.”
Dossi is expecting her first baby in early April.
The zoo has been taking extra precautions throughout the pandemic to protect its vulnerable animals, many of which are endangered.
“The large cats are another group of animals that are really susceptible, as well as the otter, so these are all species that have been proven to be able to contract COVID from people and to become ill from it,” added Dorgan.
The zoo’s animal care, health and welfare team will continue to wear PPE when working around the animals.
Effective Thursday, masks are required for all visitors aged 13 and up inside all zoo buildings, including animal habitats, indoor dining, washrooms, and retail shops.
All visitors aged three and up are required to wear a mask in the rainforest.
The zoo will continue to risk-assess this decision monthly.