A first for gorillas. Several primates at the San Diego Zoo in southern California have tested positive for the coronavirus and placed in quarantine, the zoo management and the governor of California announced Monday, Jan.11. This is the first known case of transmission in these animals.
“We have two gorillas from the San Diego Zoo who have tested positive for Covid-19” and a third who is showing symptoms, Governor Gavin Newsom said during a press conference on the pandemic. “We are in the process of confirming the source of the infection”, he said.
“Apart from a little congestion and cough, gorillas are doing well”, said in a statement Lisa Peterson, executive director of the San Diego Zoo, one of the largest animal parks in the world. “The members of the (gorilla) group all remain in quarantine together and eat and drink. We are hopeful that they will make a full recovery.”
Studies have shown that certain species of primates – like humans that fall into this category – can contract the virus responsible for Covid-19. Humans and other primates have a very similar genome, with gorillas having about 98% of their DNA in common. In Africa, chimpanzees and gorillas have thus been wiped out by the Ebola virus.
The San Diego Zoo is currently closed to the public due to the pandemic and its officials suspect gorillas have been infected with “an asymptomatic employee” who nevertheless followed the precautionary measures recommended by the American health authorities and wore a mask when he was near gorillas.