SACRAMENTO (CBS SF/AP) — Amid a growing surge of COVID-19 human infections across the state, two gorillas at the San Diego Zoo have also tested positive for the virus, Gov. Gavin Newson said Monday.
A third gorilla was also displaying symptoms of the disease.
“We are currently confirming the source of the infection and the strain,” Newsom said. “There is some question did it come human to animal. That’s being determined and one has to respect that process and the adjudication of facts. But none-the-less, it’s an area that’s long been of concern human to animal transmission but our beloved gorillas obviously we are concerned about.”
The governor said more information would be released as zoo officials further investigation how the animals may have been exposed to the illness.
The park’s executive director, Lisa Peterson, told The Associated Press on Monday that eight gorillas that live together at the park are believed to have the virus and several have been coughing.
“Aside from some congestion and coughing, the gorillas are doing well,” Peterson said in a news release. “The troop remains quarantined together and are eating and drinking. We are hopeful for a full recovery.”
It appears the infection came from a member of the park’s wildlife care team that also tested positive for the virus but has been asymptomatic. Veterinarians are closely monitoring the gorillas who will remain in their habitat at the park, north of San Diego, Peterson said.
While other wildlife has contracted the coronavirus from minks to tigers, the gorilla cases are believed to be the first reported from a zoo in the United States and possibly the world.
The safari park tested the gorillas using their fecal matter.
For now, the park’s wildlife team is closely monitoring their behavior. They are being given vitamins, fluid and food but no specific treatment for the virus.
The zoo officials are working closely with experts who have been treating the coronavirus in humans in case the animals’ develop more severe symptoms.
“This is wildlife, and they have their own resiliency and can heal differently than we do,” Peterson said, adding that for now the focus is to keep them “healthy and thriving.”
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