Primates are susceptible too


Paulina Urias, Staff Writer

Several gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park have been tested positive for Covid-19.

Park Executive Director, Ms. Lisa Peterson, said that eight gorillas who live together have been coughing and have the virus. They will keep all eight gorillas together since separating them could be harmful to the gorillas that live in thigh knit groups. This has been the first known case in the United States and possibly the world.

This is the first known instance of transmission to apes and it is unknown if they will have a serious reaction.  It appears that the infection came from one of the members of the park’s wildlife care team who was also tested positive for Covid-19. Since December 6 the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has been closed to the public as part of the state of California’s lockdown efforts to control the Coronavirus. As of now the gorillas will remain in their natural habitat being monitored by veterinarians.

One of the veterinarians said for now they are given vitamins, fluids, and food but no specific treatment for the virus. He also said the gorillas are doing well right now aside from the cough and congestion. Experts from the wildlife department have expressed concern about the Coronavirus infection of gorillas, which is an endangered species that shares 98.4% of their DNA with humans and are inherently social animals.

The San Diego Zoo department is doing everything they can to be safe, including requiring face shields and eye goggles when working in contact with the animals. Since the confirmation that gorillas are susceptible to the virus, information is now being gathered about how the pandemic may affect these animals in their native habitats and where they come in contact with human materials. The San Diego Zoo plans to share what it learns with health officials and scientists to develop steps to protect gorillas in the forest of Africa.