Members of the gorilla troop at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Courtesy of the zoo

Looking for something to do? How about visiting the western lowland gorilla troop at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park?

Guests once again have the opportunity to connect with these primates, and learn ways they can help to save this important species. Access to see the gorillas had been limited over the last month after several troop members were diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Beginning Saturday guests had the opportunity to see the eight-member troop eating, drinking and interacting with one another—having fully recovered, thanks to the work of wildlife care professionals, the veterinary team and collaborations with a wide array of colleagues and partners who ensured that the highest standard of care was given to the affected gorillas.

“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.”

Despite team members adhering to all recommended biosecurity precautions, several members of the Safari Park gorilla troop tested positive for the virus on Jan. 11.

The gorillas were infected with the B.1.429 lineage of the coronavirus, which has been prevalent in California and may be more contagious than other strains.

The entire troop remained under close observation following the diagnosis, when some gorillas showed symptoms including mild coughing, congestion, nasal discharge and intermittent lethargy.

San Diego Zoo Global joined forces with multiple local, state and national leaders in the medical, scientific, zoological and public health communities to provide the best possible care for the gorilla troop.

“There’s a such a warm camaraderie felt with our colleagues as we continue to share knowledge,” Peterson said. “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.”

Documentation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park may help provide important information regarding scientific understanding of the virus and its effects on great apes.

Also, information learned about curbing zoonotic disease transmission, biosecurity protocols for wildlife in managed care and field settings, and its implications will be vital to ensuring optimal health outcomes for humans and wildlife globally.

Guests can visit the gorilla troop at their home in the Safari Park’s Gorilla Forest. The Safari Park is currently open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information, visit SDZSafariPark.org.

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