Friday, January 22, 2021

Gorillas at San Diego Zoo Safari Park Test Positive for Coronavirus

Gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Photo by Ken Bohn. SDZG 2021 ©

Members of the Gorilla Troop at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park have tested positive for coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19. Last Wednesday, January 6, two of the gorillas began coughing and San Diego Zoo Global (SDZG) initiated the process of testing fecal samples from the gorillas through the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System. On Friday, January 8, the preliminary tests detected the presence of the virus in the gorilla troop. The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) confirmed the positive results today.

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The test results confirm the presence of coronavirus in some of the gorillas and does not definitively rule out the presence of the virus in other members of the troop.

“Aside from some congestion and coughing, the gorillas are doing well,” said Lisa Peterson, executive director, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “The troop remains quarantined together and are eating and drinking. We are hopeful for a full recovery.”

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It is suspected the gorillas acquired the infection from an asymptomatic staff member, despite following all recommended precautions including COVID-19 safety protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and San Diego County Public Health as well as wearing PPE when near the gorillas. Research studies have verified that some non-human primates are susceptible to infection with coronavirus, but this is the first known instance of natural transmission to great apes and it is unknown if they will have any serious reaction.

“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,” said Peterson. “The safety of our staff and the wildlife in our care remains our number one priority.”

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Gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Photo by Ken Bohn. SDZG 2021 ©

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park, like many public facilities, has been closed to the public since December 6. The primate habitat at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park allow the great apes to be a safe distance from all guests at all times and pose no public health risk.

About San Diego Zoo Global
As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to over 1 billion people annually, reaching 150 countries via social media, our websites and the San Diego Zoo Kids network, in children’s hospitals in 12 countries. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible with support from our incredible donors committed to saving species from the brink of extinction.

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Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is thrilled to call Coronado home and raise her two children here. In her free time enjoys hitting the gym, reading, and walking her dog around the “island.” Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com
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