Several Gorillas at San Diego Zoo Safari Park Test Positive for Coronavirus


Several gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park have tested positive for the coronavirus in the first known transmission of the virus to great apes.

The San Diego Zoo says two members of the troop of western lowland gorillas began exhibiting a cough on Jan. 6. Zoo staff collected fecal samples and tested them for the virus. Two days later, preliminary results showed the presence of COVID-19 in the gorilla troop. Those results were confirmed on Jan. 11.

The gorillas are expected to fully recover, the zoo said. But officials believe this to be the first known instance of transmission of the virus to great apes. Because of that, it's unclear how severe gorillas can react to the virus.

"Aside from some congestion and coughing, the gorillas are doing well," said Lisa Peterson, executive director at San Diego Zoo Safari Park. "The troop remains quarantined together and are eating and drinking. We are hopeful for a full recovery."

While the results confirmed COVID-19 in some of the gorillas in the troop, the zoo says that doesn't rule out the virus in other members as well. Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a press conference on Monday that at least two gorillas had tested positive and another gorilla is symptomatic.

"It's just an area that's long been a concern, human to animal transmission, but our beloved gorillas, obviously, we are concerned about," Newsom said.

(Photo San Diego Zoo Global Archives)