Gorillas at San Diego zoo recovering from COVID-19

Three gorillas at San Diego Zoo Safari Park, photo: Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo Global/Reuters
Gorillas at San Diego Zoo Safari Park, photo: Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo Global/Reuters

A group of gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is recovering from an outbreak of COVID-19 that made several of them sick, the zoo said in a news release on Monday.

The zoo said in an online statement they’re “relieved to announce that the eight-member troop is eating, drinking, interacting and on their way to a full recovery”.

The gorillas started feeling ill on January 6, when two of them started coughing. Tests of fecal matter showed that a few were infected with the coronavirus, likely contracted after exposure to a zoo employee who was infected but asymptomatic.

The strain that infected them was “a new, highly contagious strain of the coronavirus, recently identified in California”, the zoo said.

After the diagnosis, the gorillas were quarantined together at the park.

The oldest gorilla, a 48-year-old silverback named Winston, was diagnosed with pneumonia and heart disease. He was treated with heart medications, antibiotics and an antibody therapy for COVID-19.

“The veterinary team who treated Winston believe the antibodies may have contributed to his ability to overcome the virus,” the zoo said.

The zoo also plans to use a version of a COVID-19 vaccine not meant for humans to protect the animals at their zoo.

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