The animals had been tested after caregivers saw them cough and show other symptoms.
Posted today at 4:22 p.m.
The zoo believes the gorillas were infected by an asymptomatic caregiver.
Several gorillas at the Atlanta Zoo in the southern United States have tested positive for the coronavirus. Initial tests have shown that plantigrades, western lowland gorillas, were positive for SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19.
Confirmatory test results are expected from the services of the Ames National Veterinary Laboratory in Iowa, the zoo said in a statement Friday.
Some gorillas at risk of complications have been treated with monoclonal antibodies and the 20 gorillas in the zoo have all been tested.
“The teams are monitoring the affected gorillas very closely and hope they make a full recovery,” said Sam Rivera, director of animal health for Zoo Atlanta. “They are receiving the best possible care.”
“We are very concerned about these contaminations, in particular because our safety protocols for working with great apes and other vulnerable animal species are, and have been throughout the pandemic, extremely rigorous,” he said. he adds.
No risk for visitors
The zoo believes the gorillas were infected by an asymptomatic caregiver, even though he had been fully vaccinated and was wearing protective gear.
Visitors pose no danger due to the distance between them and the primate habitat, the zoo emphasizes. “It is known that humans can transmit the virus to animals like gorillas, and these cases have occurred in other zoos, but there is currently no data to suggest that zoo animals can transmit the virus to humans,” insists the establishment.
According to local daily The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, thirteen of the zoo’s gorillas were infected including Ozzie, who is 60 years old the oldest male gorilla known to the zoo.
Ozzie has moderate symptoms, Rivera told Daily. “We don’t feel out of the woods,” he added, “we take it from day to day”.
Very close genome
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 decimated by the Ebola virus.
Zoo Atlanta said it had received authorization to use the anti-Covid vaccine for animals developed by the specialized firm Zoetis. It will be administered to the gorillas as soon as they recover and the zoo also intends to vaccinate its orangutans, Sumatran tigers, African lions and clouded leopards. Covid-19 is also known to have struck domestic cats and dogs.
Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my