SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Members of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s gorilla troop have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to a media statement released by San Diego Zoo Global.

The statement says that on Jan. 6, two of the gorillas began coughing and San Diego Zoo Global initiated the process of testing fecal samples from the gorillas.

On Jan. 8, the preliminary tests detected the presence of the virus in the gorilla troop.

Three days later, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) confirmed the positive results.

“Aside from some congestion and coughing, the gorillas are doing well,” said Lisa Peterson, executive director of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “The troop remains quarantined together and are eating and drinking. We are hopeful for a full recovery.”

According to zoo officials, it is suspected the gorillas acquired the infection from an asymptomatic staff member who worked with the gorillas.

Research studies have verified that some non-human primates are susceptible to infection with SARS-CoV-2, but this is the first known instance of natural transmission to great apes, and it is unknown if they will have any serious reaction. 

“For almost one year, our team members have been working tirelessly, with the utmost determination, to protect each other and the wildlife in our care from this highly contagious virus,” Peterson said. “The safety of our staff and the wildlife in our care remains our number one priority.”

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