Atlanta zoo’s gorillas caught in the grip of COVID outbreak

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 8:11 AM EDT
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ATLANTA - Atlanta’s zoo says at least 13 western lowland gorillas have tested positive for COVID-19, including 60-year-old Ozzie, the oldest male gorilla in captivity.

Zoo Atlanta said employees noticed the gorillas had been coughing, had runny noses and showed changes in appetite.

A veterinary lab at the University of Georgia returned positive tests for the respiratory illness.

The zoo says it is treating the gorillas at risk of complications with monoclonal antibodies.

Zoo officials say they believe an asymptomatic employee passed on the virus.

The employee had been fully vaccinated and was wearing protective equipment.

Once they are well, zookeepers plan to give the primates a COVID-19 vaccine developed specifically for animals.

The zoo said it will also continue to test the animals regularly. Zoo officials don’t know how they became infected.

“The infections occurred in an area of the zoo where COVID safety protocols are already at their most stringent,” a press release said.

While humans can transmit the virus to animals, there is no evidence that zoo animals can transmit the virus to humans, health experts say.

From reports by The Associated Press and WSB