Gorillas at the San Diego Zoo test positive for coronavirus

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A sign asking visitors to maintain social distancing before the San Diego Zoo reopens. | Gregory Bull / AP Photo

Par JEREMY B. WHITE

Update

Even our primate cousins ​​cannot escape the coronavirus outbreak in California.

Governor Gavin Newsom revealed on Monday that two gorillas at the San Diego Zoo had tested positive for the virus and another had shown symptoms – a striking sign of the scope of the pandemic as cases soared to California.

“Our beloved gorillas, of course, are of concern to us,” Newsom said.

What this means: Newsom acknowledged that the revelation would likely attract the attention of Californians. The governor noted that his four children were keenly interested in the gorilla cases, prompting him to publicize the tests because “what resonates with me” tends to be of interest to the general public as well.

The San Diego Zoo said in a statement that staff began testing the primates after some of them started coughing. Officials there believe an asymptomatic staff member may have infected the gorillas.

Research shows that some non-human primates are susceptible to the virus, but this is believed to be the first natural transmission from humans to great apes. Big cats are not immune either, with several lions and tigers at the Bronx Zoo testing positive last year.

“Aside from a little congestion and cough, gorillas are fine,” Lisa Peterson, executive director of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park said in a statement. “The troops remain in quarantine together and eat and drink. We hope for a full recovery. ”

The 100-acre zoo is an international draw, but it has remained closed since Newsom instituted stay-at-home orders in early December.

The background: The news of the monkey breaking punctuated the dire coronavirus situation in California. The average test positivity rate exceeded 13%. Hospitals are overloaded: ICU capacity was 0 percent in Southern California and the Central Valley, and just 0.7 percent in the Bay Area. Newsom said the shutdown orders would likely remain in effect.

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