GEORGIA, United States— Gorillas at Zoo Atlanta, located at the southern US state of Georgia, have tested positive for COVID-19, zoo officials said.
Zoo officials said the Western Lowland gorillas tested positive and the keepers noticed they were coughing and exhibiting other symptoms.
The initial tests showed that the gorillas have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. In a statement, zoo officials said they are waiting for confirmatory tests from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.
About 20 gorillas were tested and those at risk of getting complications were treated with monoclonal antibodies.
Sam Rivera, senior director of animal health at Zoo Atlanta, mentioned that the teams are monitoring the affected gorillas and doing their best to give the animals a complete recovery and best care possible.
The zoo stated that the gorillas were probably infected by an asymptomatic keeper despite being fully vaccinated and wore personal protective equipment.
“While humans are known to be able to transmit the virus to animals such as gorillas, and these cases have occurred at other zoos, there is currently no data to suggest that zoo animals can transmit the virus to humans,” the zoo said.
According to the report of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, 13 of the zoo’s gorillas were infected. Zoo Atlanta mentioned that it has been approved to use the Zoetis COVID vaccine, which was developed for animals, and would vaccinate the infected animals once they recover.
The zoo said they would also use the same vaccine to orangutans, Sumatran tigers, African lions, and clouded leopards.
(PHOTO CREDIT: zooatlanta.org)