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Gorillas at Atlanta zoo test positive for Covid

All 20 gorillas living at the facility in Georgia are now being tested for Covid

Graig Graziosi
Sunday 12 September 2021 16:39 BST
Related video: Gorilla turns 55 at zoo to become third-oldest in the world

More than a dozen members of a gorilla troop at an Atlanta zoo have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Handlers at Zoo Atlanta noticed that a number of western lowland gorillas were experiencing mild coughs, runny noses and slight loss of appetite, so they collected fecal samples and tested the gorillas for disease.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 13 gorillas tested positive for Covid-19.

The report claims the disease was most likely transmitted to the gorillas from an asymptomatic worker who subsequently tested positive.

The employee was vaccinated, according to a report. Zoo Atlanta’s policy requires all workers to wear gloves, masks and face shields while on the job.

A Zoo Atlanta statement did not confirm how many of its gorillas are infected.

The Associated Press reported that a University of Georgia lab was analysing some samples and had returned positive Covid results for several gorillas.

Covid tests were also sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Amex, Iowa. Zoo Atlanta is reportedly awaiting those results before definitively saying that the gorillas have Covid.

The Independent has reached out to Zoo Atlanta for comment.

All 20 gorillas living at the facility are now being tested for Covid.

There are four gorilla troops at Zoo Atlanta. According to the AJC, members in each troop have shown signs of infection.

Zoo Atlanta spokesperson, Rachel Davis, told the AJC that employees are not mandated to take Covid vaccines but that a high percentage of staff have done so.

The zoo’s staff aren't the only ones to be vaccinated. Zoo Atlanta’s Bornean and Sumatran orangutans, African lions, clouded leopard, and Sumatran tigers have all received the Zoetis vaccine, which was developed for veterinary use.

Zoos in San Diego and Detroit have also vaccinated their at-risk animals.

This isn't the first time a group of gorillas has shown signs of coronavirus infection.

A troop of eight gorillas at San Diego Zoo Safari Park underwent treatment for the coronavirus in January. One of the park's silverback gorillas was even given an experimental regimen of antibodies, according to National Geographic. All of the animals recovered.

Humans have been known to infect animals however the distance and barriers enforced by zoos means that transmission between species there is unlikely.

The US Centers for Disease Control has stated that animals are not a major contributing factor to spreading Covid to humans.

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