Gorillas at San Diego park catch COVID-19
Multiple gorillas at a San Diego zoo have tested positive for COVID-19 in what appear to be the first cases of captive great apes contracting the virus. Officials with the San Diego Zoo Safari Park said that eight of their gorillas are believed to be infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. At least two gorillas have tested positive, and staff are working under the assumption that all of the gorillas could be infected.
On 6 January, zoo staff noticed that two of the park’s gorillas were coughing. Subsequent testing of faecal samples from the gorillas revealed the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the gorilla troop. “Aside from some congestion and coughing, the gorillas are doing well,” said Lisa Peterson, executive director of San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “The troop remains quarantined together and are eating and drinking. We are hopeful for a full recovery.”
Park officials believe the gorillas caught the virus from an asymptomatic staff member who also tested positive for the virus. It appears to be the first reported case of natural transmission of COVID-19 to great apes. But other animals have contracted COVID-19 on occasion, including cats, dogs and minks. In April 2020, a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City tested positive for COVID-19, and multiple other tigers there showed symptoms. RACHAEL RETTNER