WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Two gorillas at the San Diego Safari Park were confirmed on Monday to have contracted the novel coronavirus.
- According to zoo officials, fecal samples from the animals were tested for the virus at the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System (CA HFS) after they started showing symptoms.
- Both gorillas, who are now quarantined together with their troop, are doing well and expected to make a full recovery, says park executive director Lisa Peterson.
Gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park got infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, zoo officials said in a press release on Monday.
It started last Wednesday when two gorillas, who live in a troop of eight, started coughing. Fecal samples collected by zoo staff were sent to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System (CA HFS) for testing. Initial tests detected the novel coronavirus and the positive results were confirmed on Monday by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL).
Aside from a bit of coughing and congestion, the gorillas are doing well, says executive director of the park Lisa Peterson, in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. She added that all eight gorillas are kept together and being closely monitored by caretakers.
“The troop remains quarantined together and are eating and drinking. We are hopeful for a full recovery.”
It is believed that the gorillas may have gotten the virus from an asymptomatic staff member despite the zoo following the coronavirus safety protocols issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The staffer had also been wearing full protective suits when in direct contact with the animals, said Peterson.
“For almost one year our team members have been working tirelessly, with the utmost determination to protect each other and the wildlife in our care from this highly contagious virus. The safety of our staff and the wildlife in our care remains our number one priority,” stated Peterson in the news release.
While there have been documented cases of animals contracting COVID-19 in the past months, this is the first reported case of coronavirus in great apes, per ABC News.