If you were an animal in a zoo, there’s not many things you’d have to worry about. You know where your next meal is coming from, no fear of poachers, and not much chance of catching an incredibly contagious and potentially deadly virus. Unfortunately for the gorillas in San Diego Zoo Safari Park, you’d be wrong on at least one of those assumptions.
It was reported on Tuesday that no less than three gorillas had tested positive for COVID-19, in the first known cases of the virus in great apes.
After some of the eight gorillas in the zoo had been observed coughing, faeces samples were sent off for testing by the US Department of Agriculture National Veterinary Services Laboratories.
And the results came back positive — the apes had the novel coronavirus.
So how exactly did these social distanced — not from each other, but from the crowds that attend the zoo — gorillas catch the spicy cough? Especially considering the park has been closed for more than a month due to California’s lockdown.
It’s believed that one of the park’s staff who tested positive for the virus gave it to the gorillas, despite wearing a mask around them and being asymptomatic.
Thankfully, the gorillas seem to be doing okay.
The park’s executive director Lisa Peterson confirmed that the gorillas were being given food, water and vitamins but no treatment for the virus.
They’re being watched carefully but will stay in their habitat for the time being.
“Aside from some congestion and coughing, the gorillas are doing well,” Peterson said.
It is established that COVID-19 is a zoonotic pathogen. More than 10,000 minks in Utah were reported to have died from COVID-19.
Still, it will take some by surprise that gorillas in an exhibit can catch the disease. But in America, it’s pretty clear that no one is safe.