The Toronto Zoo will now require all visitors ages 12 and older to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend the popular tourist attraction.

The new policy, which was announced on Wednesday, will require guests, members, business partners, and contractors to show proof of vaccination before entering.

In a news release, the zoo said while the facility does include many outdoor spaces for people to enjoy, there are also indoor spaces that will be visited more frequently by guests as the colder weather approaches.

The zoo went on to say that it must take all precautions in order to protect other guests, staff, and the animals that are vulnerable to COVID-19.

“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. As a science-based institution, we fully support the evidence that vaccination protects individuals from serious illness and COVID-19 spread,” Dolf DeJong, the CEO of theToronto Zoo, said in a written statement.

The policy comes into effect on Monday, Oct. 25.

In an interview with CP24 on Wednesday, the Toronto Zoo’s Manager of Safety and Security Joanne Eaton said that concerns around the susceptibility of some animals to COVID-19, specifically gorillas, orangutans, tigers and lions, was “one of the main factors” in rolling out a mandatory vaccination policy.

“Just this week there was a snow leopard in South Dakota that did contract COVID and die. So this is a tragic event that we do not want to happen at our zoo,” she said.

As of Sept. 22, many businesses in Ontario, including restaurants, gyms, and movie theatres, are now required to ensure patrons are fully vaccinated before they are permitted entry.

The provincial government’s policy does not apply to essential businesses, including grocery stores, pharmacies, and retail stores. Proof of vaccination is also not required for patio dining or at certain outdoor venues, although many businesses and organizations have implemented their own vaccination policies above and beyond the province’s mandate.