Gorillas at Atlanta Zoo test positive for COVID-19

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Lowland Gorilla Silverback at Zoo Atlanta. Photo by Zoo Atlanta

In a very worrying new development, western lowland Gorillas at Zoo Atlanta have been found to be positive for COVID-19.

The care team noticed that several members of the zoo’s western lowland gorillas were coughing, had runny noses and showed changes in their appetites.

After nasal, oral and fecal samples were sent for testing, the zoo received positive results indicating that 18 out of 20 gorillas had been infected by the Delta variant of the SARS-COV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, as said in a statement on Friday 10 September 2021 and more recent updates this week in the Associated Press. The gorillas became infected after contact with an asymptomatic vaccinated zoo staff who developed a breakthrough infection.

This highlights how susceptible wild gorilla populations in Africa are to diseases from humans, and more than ever the urgency and need to continue doing everything that we can to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infection amongst the wild gorilla population in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which is home to 43% of the world’s remaining wild mountain gorillas.

Whilst the Zoo Atlanta gorillas have developed mild to moderate symptoms with those at risk being treated with monoclonal antibodies, and plans in place to vaccinate them once they recover, treatment and managing the spread of infection in wild populations would be very difficult. Prevention and mitigation efforts are critical.

We need your help to continue protecting the local communities and mountain gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – please consider supporting the Village COVID-19 Task Force Committees with a donation to our Global Giving Campaign.

To further mitigate COVID-19 transmission, we are intensifying efforts to (i) provide training and critical equipment to park staff and Gorilla Guardians – who herd gorillas back to the park when they forage in community land, and (ii) conduct testing of gorillas and people who interact with them.

Your support will enable us to achieve these goals.

Thank you very much for your continued support.

Have a nice, safe and healthy week.

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