They probably caught it from an animal handler. The handler also tested positive and did not show any symptoms before.
A shocking result
Animal handlers had already noticed at the beginning of January that two of the primates were coughing. They then took stool samples for testing and received the shocking result a few days later.
The group is made up of eight gorillas, all of whom seem to be infected. The park's executive director Lisa Peterson commented on the zoo's website:
For almost one year our team members have been working tirelessly, with the utmost determination to protect each other and the wildlife in our care from this highly contagious virus. The safety of our staff and the wildlife in our care remains our number one priority.
Together in quarantine.
The park has already been closed since the 6th December. The manager also added:
They are doing okay so far, they only have mild symptoms. And we continue to monitor them. But they drink, eat and engage with each other.
The group is now given more vitamins, fluids and food. Special medicines, on the other hand, are not administered to the apes. Despite their illness, however, the primates remain together, because separating them would put a lot of stress on them.
Un uncertain future
How the gorillas will continue to react to the virus remains completely unknown. This could be the world's first known case of infection in monkeys. So far, only cases in minks, tigers and isolated domestic animals have been found.
Studies have already suggested that some great apes are susceptible to the coronavirus. But this is the first known case of infection.
Social distancing for apes?
It remains unclear whether the course of the disease as well as its lethality to humans could be similar for primates. Indeed, social distancing and artificial respiration would be very difficult to implement with the apes.
Veterinarians are very concerned. Not only is the gorilla threatened with extinction, but it also shares more than 98 percent of its DNA with humans. We hope for the best and keep our fingers crossed for the gorillas.