The park’s executive director, Lisa Peterson, told The Associated Press on Monday that eight gorillas that live together at the park are believed to have the virus and several have been coughing.
It appears the infection came from a member of the park’s wildlife care team that also tested positive for the virus but has been asymptomatic. Veterinarians are closely monitoring the gorillas who will remain in their habitat at the park, north of San Diego, Peterson said.
While other wildlife has contracted the coronavirus from minks to tigers, the gorilla cases are believed to be the first reported from a zoo in the United States and possibly the world.
The safari park tested the gorillas using their fecal matter.
For now, the park’s wildlife team is closely monitoring their behavior. They are being given vitamins, fluid and food but no specific treatment for the virus.
The zoo officials are working closely with experts who have been treating the coronavirus in humans in case the animals’ develop more severe symptoms.
“This is wildlife, and they have their own resiliency and can heal differently than we do,” Peterson said, adding that for now the focus is to keep them “healthy and thriving.”