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Lincoln Park Zoo, Shedd Aquarium Require Staff, Volunteers Be Vaccinated

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Two of the Chicago area's most popular attractions will soon require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Lincoln Park Zoo and the Shedd Aquarium said all staff and volunteers are to have all their shots by October.

Lincoln Park Zoo announced today it will be requiring all staff and volunteers be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 15.

"As a science-based institution with 40+ full-time scientists on staff, we vehemently believe in following the science," said Zoo Director Megan Ross, Ph.D. "It is our responsibility not only to provide a safe space for one another, but the guests we welcome to the zoo each day and the animals in our care."

As of now, 97% of zoo staff were fully vaccinated against COVID. According to the zoo, it will make exceptions for medical or religious reasons. Those individuals may require twice-weekly COVID-19 testing.

At the Shedd Aquarium, staff, volunteers and "onsite partners" will need to be fully vaccinated as of October 31.

"We are a trusted, science-based institution, and it is vital that we consider what else Shedd Aquarium can do to help in the required, collective efforts to reduce the spread and impact of this pandemic while safeguarding our team," said Bridget Coughlin, PhD, President & CEO of Shedd Aquarium.

According to the aquarium, "a large majority" of its staff is already fully vaccinated but "will remain sensitive to the medical and religious-based reasons that some employees have chosen to not be vaccinated."

For now, the aquarium won't require proof of vaccination from visitors, however, it "will be expected to follow required safety precautions and protocols and are encouraged to follow the latest CDC health and safety guidance."

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