SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Officials with the San Diego Zoo announced Monday at least two of their gorillas contracted the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Sacramento Zoo Director of Animal Care Matt McKim said “staff and animal health has always been a priority for us.”
He added that “it is completely possible” that humans can spread COVID-19 to animals and the zoo has strict protocols in place to prevent the spread.
“So, any staff working with animals that may be susceptible, such as the great apes, the gorillas you mentioned in San Diego, our chimpanzees and our orangutans and other primates here at the zoo, that staff does wear PPE anytime they’re working with those animals,” McKim said. “We have a limited amount of staff that work with those animals and we limit those interactions with those animals.”
Zoo staff are also trained to look out for those same warning signs seen in people.
“We’re looking for difficulties breathing, respiratory issues, taking temperatures of animals, things like that,” McKim continued.
“Almost all of the documented cases of companion animals getting infections, as well as the zoo animals, resulted from infection transmitted from people to those animals,” said University of California, Davis’ veterinary medical officer, Dr. Jane Sykes.
Dr. Sykes said there have been many findings of other species contracting the virus from human contact, including lions and tigers at the Bronx Zoo.
But as far as getting sick from our four-legged companions, there is no need to worry, she said.
“We don’t have any documented evidence of spread of the virus from dogs and cats back to people,” Sykes said. “So far, they seem to be of extremely low-risk in terms of their ability to transmit infections back to humans.”
UC Davis’s Veterinary Hospital will continue to work closely with the Sacramento Zoo to make sure the future treatment for the welfare of their animals is prepared.