Several western lowland gorillas at Zoo Atlanta in the United States tested positive for COVID-19, the zoo said in a statement. The animals were tested after zookeepers saw them coughing.
Gorillas at risk of getting really sick were being treated with antibodies, and the zoo’s whole population of twenty gorillas was being tested.
“The teams are very closely monitoring the affected gorillas and are hopeful they will make a complete recovery,” Sam Rivera, senior director of animal health at the zoo, said.
“We are very concerned that these infections occurred, especially given that our safety protocols when working with great apes and other susceptible animal species are, and throughout the pandemic have been, extremely rigorous,” he added.
The zoo said it believed the gorillas were infected by an asymptomatic keeper, despite the employee being fully vaccinated and wearing personal protective equipment.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that 13 of the zoo’s gorillas were infected, including 60-year-old Ozzie, the oldest male gorilla in captivity. Rivera told the paper Ozzie was showing mild symptoms.
“We don’t feel that we’re out of the woods,” he added. “We’re taking it on a day by day basis.”
Zoo Atlanta said it has been authorized to use the Zoetis Covid vaccine, developed for animals, and would vaccinate the gorillas when they recover.
The zoo said it would also vaccinate its orangutans, Sumatran tigers, African lions and clouded leopard.
More stories on animals who got COVID-19 in zoos:
Sumatran tigers Tino and Hari recovered from COVID-19 at Indonesian zoo
Asiatic lioness Neela dies from COVID-19 in Indian zoo
Nine great apes at San Diego Zoo vaccinated for COVID-19
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