Gorillas at the California's San Diego Zoo Safari Park on Monday have tested positive for COVID-19, said the safari park offcials. These are possibly the first known such cases in the world among the primates. Earlier today, two gorillas were confirmed to have tested positive for coronavirus, as per reports. While other wildlife has contracted the virus from minks to tigers, this is the first known instance of transmission to great apes and it is unknown if they will have any serious reaction.
The safari park tested the samples of the troop of gorillas after two apes began coughing on January 6. Positive test results were confirmed by the U.S Department of Agriculture National Veterinary Services Laboratories in three gorillas. Samples from all eight in the troop are collected for Covid testing.
The park’s executive director, Lisa Peterson in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday said that eight gorillas that live together at the park are believed to have the virus and several have been coughing.
“Aside from some congestion and coughing, the gorillas are doing well,” Peterson said. He added,“This is wildlife, and they have their own resiliency and can heal differently than we do."
Zoo officials are in touch with the experts who have been treating the coronavirus in humans just in case the animals’ develop more cronic symptoms. The safari park has also added more safety measures for its staff, including ace shields and eye goggles when working in contact with the animals.
The gorillas infected at the San Diego safari park are western lowland gorillas, whose population has declined by more than 60% over the last two decades because of poaching and disease, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Gorillas share up to 98 percent of their DNA with humans, and studies have found that some non-human primates are susceptible to Covid-19 infection.