Two gorillas at a zoo in California have tested positive for COVID-19, in what is believed to be the first known cases of the virus among great apes in the United States and possibly the rest of the world. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park said the gorillas started coughing on Wednesday, prompting officials to test their fecal samples, which came back as positive for coronavirus.
Lisa Peterson, the zoo’s director, said in a statement, “Aside from some congestion and coughing, the gorillas are doing well. The troop remains quarantined together and are eating and drinking. We are hopeful for a full recovery.” The gorillas are being closely monitored by veterinarians and are receiving vitamins, fluid, and food but aren’t receiving any specific treatment for the virus yet.
Officials believe the gorillas caught the virus from an asymptomatic staff member “despite following all recommended precautions.” The staff member wore a mask at all times when around the gorillas. The zoo said in a press release, “This is the first known instance of natural transmission to great apes and it is unknown if they will have any serious reaction.”
In an update on Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom said a third gorilla had started displaying symptoms of the illness. Newsom said, “We are currently confirming the source of the infection and the strain.” He added, “There is some question did it come human to animal. That’s being determined…”
The virus has previously been found in cats, dogs, a lion, a tiger, and a mink. Official say minks appear to be the most susceptible animal thus far.
Source: New York Post