Double vax required to enter Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park

Zoos SA has announced COVID-19 vaccination mandates for all staff, volunteers, visitors and contractors at both Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park.

With South Australian borders about to reopen, Zoos SA has made the decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all staff, volunteers, visitors and contractors at both Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park.

This mandate will apply from Wednesday December 1, 2021 until Monday January 31, 2022 when Zoos SA will reassess the situation. The vaccination mandate is a requirement of any visitors aged 16 and over to have had two COVID-19 double vaccinations (or have an official exemption).

Speaking about the announcement, Elaine Bensted, CE of Zoos SA said that enforcing this mandate did not come easily.

“This hasn’t been an easy decision, however, it is one made from intense considerations and concerns for humans and animals and the survival of our business,” Elaine said.

“At the moment, as a COVID Management Plan site, any person with or without vaccination and their contacts who caught COVID would be unable to work on site or visit us for 14 days.

“It seems likely that with an influx through our borders, this scenario of a person infecting others or being a ‘close’ or ‘casual’ contact is more likely to happen.”

“We need to ensure that we have enough staff to care for our animals and to be able to open our sites and be confident of offering a safe and enjoyable experience to visitors.

Elaine said that the team have deliberated over this decision since Monday and went out to staff, volunteers, members, visitors and contractors today.

“For some it’s going to mean not being on site until at least the end of January when we will readdress the situation,” she said.

“What makes us slightly different to other sites is that there are also our animals to consider. Since the start of the COVID-19 global pandemic, knowledge around its impact on animals continues to grow and evolve.  

“The number of at-risk animal species based on recorded COVID positive cases has increased, and more recently clinical outcomes have significantly shifted towards the negative with deaths associated with complications for multiple exotic animal species including Asiatic Lion and Snow Leopard.  

“This is obviously of grave concern to us as the number of infections is anticipated to increase and we have a number of ‘Big Cats’ and susceptible primates on both sites. 

“We are currently working through the logistics of checking QR codes and vaccination certificates, the temporary pausing of any necessary memberships and will have more information on this soon.”

The summer school holiday is the peak visiting period for Zoos SA with both sites normally attracting thousands of visitors per day. Zoos SA hopes that the mandate will help the conservation charity avoid any COVID outbreaks and that providing a safe environment will encourage an influx of visitors whose entry fee, donations and support helps to pay for local, national and international conservation work helping to save animals from extinction.

Zoos SA has been hard hit by COVID closures as well as restrictions placed upon it due to its COVID Management Plan status. 

Up until November 13, both sites were only able to operate at 50% capacity. Recent changes, of just a week ago, have seen the sites able to operate at 75% capacity with masks only needing to be worn indoors and on Monarto Safari Park’s Zu-loop bus.

This announcement comes off the bat of WOMADelaide Festival making it a requirement of all attendees to be vaccinated, with Bird in Hand being one of the first to announce this mandate.

As well as this Adelaide Oval has also announced today that from Tuesday 23 November, all visitors entering Adelaide Oval for any reason must be double vaccinated if they are aged 12 and over.

Zoos SA plans to readdress the mandate by 31 January 2022.

For more information, visit the Zoos SA website.

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