Toronto Zoo disclosed a cyberattack on Monday, after first detecting it last week and working to mitigate the impact. The zoo reassured the public that the attack did not impact animal wellbeing and support staff, but it was still determining possible consequences for human visitors.
Canada’s largest zoo is investigating the attacker’s motives and possible damage to its systems. It’s unclear if any guest, member, donor or employee records were impacted. Toronto Zoo did, however, say it does not store any credit card information, so past visitors wouldn’t have to worry about that. The zoo remains open for normal operations, and its website is still up and running.
“Unfortunately, these incidents are becoming more and more common and we are grateful we took steps over the past few years to upgrade our technology infrastructure,” Toronto Zoo said in a statement. It contacted the city, local police and third-party experts to help with its investigations.
But questions remain, like why would attackers target a zoo? Money usually motivates hackers, and the zoo does bring in a lot. Besides millions in donations for various projects and government grants, it also generates revenue from its 750,000 visitors each year.
Zoos have been a target of attacks in the past, too. A cyberattack hit ZooTampa in July 2023 and the Louisville Zoo in 2022, allegedly targeting visitors’ personal information. In 2015, two dozen zoos in the United States faced a coordinated attack against a vendor going after visitor credit and debit card information.