Gorillas diagnosed with COVID-19 at US safari park

This is first known transmission of the virus to apes, according to the zoo officials.

03:38 PM | 12 Jan, 2021
Gorillas diagnosed with COVID-19 at US safari park

LOS ANGELES – As many as eight gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park are believed to have contracted the coronavirus from a human handler after one of the animals tested positive.

Three among the band of critically endangered western lowland gorillas at the sprawling wildlife park have shown symptoms of the respiratory virus, such as coughing, though none appears severely ill, and all are expected to fully recover, the zoo said in online statement.

Laboratory analysis of a fecal sample collected last Wednesday from one of two gorillas initially seen coughing detected the presence of the virus two days later, zoo spokesman Andrew James said.

The positive results were confirmed on Monday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories, the zoo said on its website.

The gorillas are believed to have contracted the SAR-CoV-2, the scientific name of the virus that causes COVID-19, from an asymptomatic staff member, despite adherence to strict bio-security protocols consistent with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, the zoo said. 

Zoo officials said they do not know how the coronavirus will ultimately affect gorillas or what additional symptoms may occur, Reuters reported.

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The coronavirus has also been found in a number of other wild-animal species in captivity, including several lions and tigers at the Bronx Zoo in New York and four lions at the Barcelona Zoo in Spain. But the gorillas in San Diego are the first known case of infections confirmed in apes.