Several western lowland gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park have tested positive for the coronavirus, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this afternoon, making them the world’s first-known great apes to contract the virus.
The gorillas, who live in a troop of eight, are expected to recover, says Lisa Peterson, executive director of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, in California. Caretakers have decided to keep all eight gorillas together and monitor them closely.
“Some may have it and others may not,” Peterson says. “They live in a troop with a single silverback. He’s the leader. He guides them throughout the day. They look to him. It’s really best for them that they’re allowed to continue as they are.”
Gorillas are the seventh animal species to have contracted the virus naturally, following confirmed infections in tigers, lions, mink, snow leopards, dogs, and domestic cats. While there are documented cases of mink-to-human transmission in the Netherlands and Denmark, there is no evidence that the other species can make humans sick.