Thirteen gorillas at Atlanta zoo test positive for COVID-19
Thirteen western lowland gorillas at Zoo Atlanta are receiving treatment for COVID-19 after initial tests came back positive, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported.
Why it matters: Zoo Atlanta confirmed in a statement on Friday that "a number" of its 20 gorillas had tested presumptively positive, and that the zoo believes they were infected by a fully vaccinated team member.
- The team member was wearing PPE and was asymptomatic that day, the statement added.
State of play: The gorillas were tested for the virus after they exhibited classic symptoms, including coughing, runny noses and minor changes in appetite, the statement said.
- Oral and fecal samples were sent to the University of Georgia's Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, which came back with 13 presumptive positive results.
- The zoo is now awaiting confirmation from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, which also received samples.
- Gorillas that are at risk of developing complications are being treated with monoclonal antibodies, the statement added.
- All 20 of the gorillas will be tested regularly regardless of symptoms, the zoo added.
Once they recover, the gorillas — as well as the zoo's Bornean and Sumatran orangutans, Sumatran tigers, African lions and clouded leopard — will receive the Zoetis coronavirus vaccine developed for animals.
What they're saying: “The teams are very closely monitoring the affected gorillas and are hopeful they will make a complete recovery,” Sam Rivera, senior director of animal health at the zoo, said in the statement.
- “They are receiving the best possible care, and we are prepared to provide additional supportive care should it become necessary," Rivera said.
The big picture: Other zoos around the country have also begun to vaccinate some of their charges.
- On Aug. 30, the Detroit Zoo announced it had begun vaccinations, starting with its gorillas, chimpanzees, tigers and lions.
- The Oakland Zoo began vaccinating its animals in July.
- In February, great apes at the San Diego Zoo became the first animals in the country to be inoculated against the virus, per National Geographic.
- Zoetis plans to send 11,000 doses of the animal vaccine to more than 80 institutions around the country for free, according to National Geographic.