San Diego Zoo Gorillas Test Positive for Coronavirus

Two gorillas at the San Diego Zoo have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to park officials. The zoo has been closed since early December.

Gorillas at the San Diego Zoo

Image via Getty

Gorillas at the San Diego Zoo

Two gorillas at the San Diego Zoo have tested positive for coronavirus, according to a press release shared by the park.

Zoo officials believe the coronavirus was spread to two of the gorillas by an asymptomatic park employee. Three gorillas began to exhibit symptoms last Wednesday. Tests returned on Friday from the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System showed that coronavirus was present in the animals' feces. A further test by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories showed that several gorillas had been infected. Because of the communal living situation of gorilla troops, it's expected that many of the primates have been exposed.

Zoo representatives said that the gorillas symptoms have mostly been mild up to this point. The positive test is also no cause for alarm for Southern Californians, as the zoo has been closed to the public under state orders since December. 

“Aside from some congestion and coughing, the gorillas are doing well,” San Diego Zoo executive director Lisa Peterson shared in the release.

Though these cases appear to have moved from person to ape, the CDC has noted that the opposite circumstance is extremely rare. The public health authority said that transmission from animals to humans is unlikely.

"At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19," the agency said. "Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low."

Several animals in captivity in the U.S., where the virus is still raging, have come down with the virus. A tiger in the Bronx Zoo and a snow leopard in Louisville have both tested positive over the course of the pandemic.

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