Several gorillas at Zoo Atlanta have contracted COVID-19, and it appears that a human staff member Passed it along.
Officials at the zoo confirmed that at least 13 of their gorillas in captivity have been confirmed positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus after some of them were seen showing symptoms in recent days and were tested by a local lab — with additional results expected in the coming days.
Update on our gorilla population: Zoo Atlanta has received presumptive positive test results indicating that members of its western lowland gorilla troops are positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. https://t.co/TugKKupxnV pic.twitter.com/ba5fpZ6MdC
— ZooATL (@ZooATL) September 10, 2021
Common symptoms include runny noses, coughing, and changes in appetite. Samples were collected by the use of nasal swabs, oral swabs, and fecal material and sent for further testing.
Ozzie, the oldest gorilla in captivity at 60 years old, is among those who tested positive for the virus. They are being treated with monoclonal antibodies and will soon be given the Zoetis vaccine, which is a dose made specifically for animals. A number of zoos have already administered to their animals.
Zoo Atlanta says at least 13 western lowland gorillas have tested positive for COVID-19, including 60-year-old Ozzie, the oldest male gorilla in captivity.https://t.co/Qs7d0i9MIL
— WABE News (@wabenews) September 11, 2021
As for how they became infected, zoo officials believe that a member of the care team may have unintentionally passed along the virus. Officials claim that this employee was completely vaccinated and wearing a slew of protective gear when they were in contact with the gorillas but still tested positive for the virus later.
At this time, it does not appear like any of the gorillas are in danger of dying, but the Zoo is keeping a close eye on their health. They’re also allowing guests to continue to visit them because, according to the zoo, it’s not possible for animals to transmit COVID to people and the built-in viewing area is at a safe distance from the animals.