Several gorillas at the Atlanta Zoo, in the US state of Georgia, tested positive for Covid-19, according to the zoo itself.
The primates were examined after their caregivers saw them cough and noted other symptoms, the zoo said.
Initial tests tested positive for the virus that causes Covid-19, and the zoo said in a statement on Friday that it was awaiting confirmation test results.
Gorillas at risk for complications were being treated with monoclonal antibodies, proteins produced in laboratories to fight infections. All 20 zoo gorillas were examined.
“The teams are closely monitoring the affected gorillas and we are looking forward to their full recovery. They are getting the best care possible,” said Sam Rivera, director of Zoo Atlanta.
“We are very concerned about the occurrence of these infections, especially as our health protocols applied to work with monkeys and other susceptible animal species during the pandemic were extremely strict,” he added.
The zoo believes the gorillas were infected by an asymptomatic caretaker, although he was vaccinated and wore protective gear.
“Although humans can transmit the virus to animals such as gorillas, and this has already happened in other zoos, there is no data to indicate that zoo animals can transmit the virus to humans”, says the establishment.
In addition, the zoo claims that there is no possibility of a threat of contagion to humans due to the distance that separates the public from the primate habitat.
The “Atlanta Journal-Constitution” reported that 13 gorillas were infected, including Ozzie, the oldest female gorilla in captivity.
Zoo Atlanta said it has allowed the application of the Zoetis Covid vaccine developed for animals and that it will inoculate the gorillas when they recover.
The zoo will also vaccinate orangutans, Sumatran tigers, African lions and leopards.
Domestic dogs and cats have also been infected with Covid-19.
It’s the bug: animals don’t transmit Covid-19 to humans