In a First, Two Gorillas Test Positive for COVID-19 at Zoo in US

This is the first known instance of natural transmission to great apes.

Updated
World
2 min read
Like many public facilities in the US, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has been closed to the public since 6 December.
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California's San Diego Zoo on Monday, 11 January, confirmed that at least two gorillas have been infected by coronavirus, reported AFP. This is the first known instance of natural transmission to great apes.

San Diego Zoo Global initiated the process of testing fecal samples from the gorillas for SARS-CoV-2 through the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, after two gorillas had started coughing on Wednesday.

The preliminary tests done on 8 January detected the presence of the virus in the Gorilla troop, which was later confirmed by the US Department of Agriculture National Veterinary Services Laboratories on Monday.

While the test results confirmed the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in some of the gorillas, other members of the troop were ruled out of this possibility, according to AFP.

Lisa Peterson, executive director, San Diego Zoo Safari Park told AFP that the gorillas are doing well, apart from some congestion and coughing. “The troop remains quarantined together and are eating and drinking. We are hopeful for a full recovery," she said.

The gorillas may have contracted the infection from a asymptomatic staff member, though this has not been confirmed.

As per ANI, studies have found that some non-human primates are susceptible to COVID-19 since they share up to 98 percent of their DNA with humans.

Peterson further added that our team members have been working tirelessly to protect each other and the wildlife from this highly contagious virus for over a year. "The safety of our staff and the wildlife in our care remains our number one priority," she told ANI.

Like many public facilities in the US, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has been closed to the public since 6 December.

(With inputs from AFP & ANI )

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