San Diego zoo has vaccinated nine great apes for coronavirus after a troop of gorillas became infected.
Four orangutans and five bonobos received Covid-19 vaccine injections in January and February. Three more bonobos and a gorilla were also were expected to receive the experimental vaccine, which was developed by Zoetis, a firm that produces medicine for animals.
Eight western lowland gorillas at the zoo’s safari park contracted the virus in January, probably from a zookeeper, even though employees wear masks at all times around the gorillas.
“That made us realise that our other apes were at risk,” Nadine Lamberski, the chief conservation and wildlife health officer for the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “We wanted to do our best to protect them from this virus because we don’t really know how it’s going to impact them.”
The gorillas had symptoms ranging from runny noses to coughing and lethargy.
Wildlife experts have expressed concern about endangered apes catching Covid. Other kinds of wildlife – from minks to tigers – in other locations have also contracted the virus.