By Ismail Auwal
Several gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park have tested positive for the coronavirus in what are believed to be the first known cases among apes in the United States and possibly the world.
The gorillas’ fecal matter was tested after two of them began coughing and exhibiting “other mild symptoms” on January 6, the zoo said in a press release. The tests came back positive on January 8 and were confirmed by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories on January 11.
The park’s executive director, Lisa Peterson, told The Associated Press news agency on Monday that eight gorillas that live together at the park are believed to have the virus and several have been coughing.
It appears the infection came from a member of the park’s wildlife care team, who also tested positive for the virus but was asymptomatic and had worn a mask at all times around the gorillas.
The park has been closed to the public since December 6 as part of the state of California’s lockdown efforts to curb coronavirus cases.
At least two of the gorillas began coughing last week, while a third is showing symptoms.
Positive test results were confirmed by the US Department of Agriculture National Veterinary Services Laboratories in three gorillas. Faeces from all eight in the troop are being taken for testing.