At least two gorillas tested positive for COVID-19 at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the zoo announced on Jan. 11.
The zoo detected the presence of the virus in some of the gorillas when results from a fecal sample testing through the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System came back positive on Jan. 8, two days after the primates started showing symptoms.
The National Veterinary Services Laboratory of the United States Department of Agriculture confirmed the test results on Jan. 11.
The zoo said in a statement that the positive test results “does not definitively rule out the presence of the virus in other members of the troop,” suggesting that more gorillas might be infected.
“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 zoo’s Executive Director Lisa Peterson said.
The zoo said that that the gorillas might have been infected by an asymptomatic staff member and that it is unknown if the gorillas will have any serious reaction to the virus.
Although research has shown that non-human primates can be affected by the virus, this gorilla case is the “first known instance of natural transmission” of COVID-19 to great apes, the zoo noted.
“The great apes continue to be observed closely by the San Diego Zoo Global veterinary team,” the zoo assured.
California Governor Gavin Newsom also announced the positive results of “our beloved gorillas” during a media briefing on Jan. 11 and wished the zoo “the best of the best.”
The zoo has been closed to the public since Dec. 6.
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