Zoo Atlanta is reporting that members of its western lowland gorilla troops have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19.
The zoo says that Gorilla Care Team members saw the gorillas coughing and noticed they had nasal discharge and their appetites had changed.
Update on our gorilla population: Zoo Atlanta has received presumptive positive test results indicating that members of its western lowland gorilla troops are positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. https://t.co/TugKKupxnV pic.twitter.com/ba5fpZ6MdC
— ZooATL (@ZooATL) September 10, 2021
The team is now collecting samples from the zoo’s entire gorilla population, which includes 20 members living in four troops. They will also regularly test the gorillas regardless of the presence of symptoms.
Although the zoo’s veterinarians can’t be sure of how the gorillas contracted the virus, it is believed it may have originated with a COVID-positive care team member. The team member is fully vaccinated, was wearing personal protective equipment, and was asymptomatic on the day of reporting to work.
The zoo says that although it is known that humans can transmit the virus to animals such as gorillas, there is currently no data to suggest that zoo animals can transmit to humans.
The zoo also said that the infections occurred in an area of the zoo where COVID safety protocols are already at their most stringent and it stressed that there is no risk to zoo visitors.
Additionally, the zoo is on the waiting list to receive the Zoetis vaccine.