As many as eight gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park are presumed to have contracted COVID-19 from a human handler after one of the animals tested positive, marking the first known transmission of the virus to apes, zoo officials said on Monday.
As many as eight gorillas at the San Diego Zoo are presumed to have contracted COVID-19 from a human handler.
That's according to the zoo on Monday.
They're the first known cases of natural transmission to great apes, though for now the zoo says none seem to be severely ill and are all expected to fully recover.
Lisa Peterson is director of the zoo's safari park: "They're experiencing some mild symptoms and we're continuing to observe them but they're drinking, they're eating and they're interacting with one another." Three of the critically endangered western lowland gorillas began coughing last week, and fecal samples from one of them detected the virus.
Peterson said they suspect the team member who passed it onto the gorillas was asymptomatic.
"That's despite all of the precautions that we take.
We follow CDC guidelines, we follow San Diego County health guidelines, the team wears PPE around all of our wildlife.
And so even with all those precautions we still have an exposure that we think happened with that team member." The zoo hasn't ruled out that other members of the gorilla troupe have it too.
The virus has previously been transferred to lions, tigers and a small number of pet cats and dogs.
Among the first known U.S. cases of animals testing positive was a tiger at a New York zoo.
The Malayan tiger, Nadia, recovered and was reported to be eating and behaving normally.