SAN DIEGO (AP) — Several gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park are expected to make a full recovery weeks after testing positive for the coronavirus in what is believed to be the first known cases among such primates in the United States.
Safari Park executive director Lisa Peterson said the eight western lowland gorillas were likely exposed by a zookeeper who tested positive for COVID-19 in early January, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Veterinarians have since closely monitored the gorillas to make sure they have been eating and drinking enough to recover on their own. The park north of San Diego has been closed to the public as part of California’s lockdown efforts to curb coronavirus cases.
“We’re not seeing any of that lethargy. No coughing, no runny noses anymore,” Peterson said. “It feels to us like we’ve turned the corner.”
Officials tested feces of the troop of gorillas after two apes began coughing on Jan. 6. Positive test results were confirmed by the U.S Department of Agriculture National Veterinary Services Laboratories in three gorillas. Fecal samples from the gorillas are no longer testing positive for the virus, Peterson said.
Peterson said some of the gorillas will get the COVID-19 vaccine, a supply not permitted for use in people.
“The hope is that we would be able to vaccinate wildlife that would be susceptible to illness and then prevent them from ever catching it,” she said.