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San Diego Zoo Safari Park gorilla troop recovers from coronavirus

Troop was infected with a West Coast virus strain
San Diego Zoo Safari Park Gorillas Recovering After SARS-CoV-2 Diagnosis
san diego zoo gorilla Troop_09_Web.jpg
San Diego Zoo Safari Park Gorillas Recovering After SARS-CoV-2 Diagnosis
Posted at 9:59 AM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 12:59:46-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A troop of western lowland gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has recovered from the coronavirus.

The zoo has reopened its gorilla exhibit, after limiting visitors over the last month because of the virus detected within the troop.

Zoo officials noticed some members of the troop showing symptoms including mild coughing, congestion, nasal discharge, and lethargy, and several gorillas tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 11.

RELATED: San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, SeaWorld to reopen as stay-at-home order lifted

The zoo believes that a staff member who was asymptomatic passed the virus to the troop, despite taking all safety precautions. The troop was infected with the B.1.429 strain of the virus, known as one of two West Coast variants that may be more contagious than other strains.

During their care, zoo officials said Winston, the park's silverback gorilla, was treated with an experimental monoclonal antibody therapy.

"We’re so grateful for the outpouring concern and support we’ve received while the troop safely recovered," said Lisa Peterson, executive director of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. "We’re thrilled to share the joy that this beloved troop brings to our community and to our guests."

RELATED: San Diego Zoo Safari Park treats gorilla, Winston, with antibody therapy after troop contracts COVID-19

The troop's experience may help zoologists around the world learn more about how gorillas react to the coronavirus. Officials believe this was the first incident of human-to-ape transmission of the virus.

"There’s a such a warm camaraderie felt with our colleagues as we continue to share knowledge," said Peterson. "We’re incredibly thankful for the collaboration across various areas of expertise to ensure the best health for our troop and a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of all living things."

The eight-member troop is now eating, drinking, and interacting with one another after fully recovering. Guests can visit the exhibit by making a reservation on the zoo's website.