Officials at the zoo’s Safari Park said several gorillas had tested positive for the virus and believed an asymptomatic staff member had infected the animals.
“Aside from a little congestion and cough, gorillas are fine,” said Lisa Peterson, executive director of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
Several gorillas at San Diego Zoo Safari Park have tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming what federal officials said Monday were the first known apes in the country to be infected.
Zoo officials said on Monday they believed the gorillas were infected by an asymptomatic staff member who followed safety recommendations, including wearing personal protective equipment near animals.
Vets are keeping a close watch on the troop, which is made up of eight western lowland gorillas. The infected animals are expected to make a full recovery, officials said.
Three animals show symptoms such as coughing, officials said. But since the gorillas live together in herds, « we have to assume, » the zoo said, « that all members of the family group have been exposed.
Zoo officials have learned that at least two gorillas have been infected with the coronavirus after they were seen « coughing and showing other mild symptoms, » Wednesday, the zoo said in the statement.
Tests by the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System on Friday showed the coronavirus to be present in the troop’s feces, the zoo said. Tests by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories, which provide testing for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, confirmed the troop as infected on Saturday, the zoo said.