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Last week, two gorillas at the San Diego Zoo were infected with COVID-19. An asymptomatic zoo staff member transmitted the disease to them. So far they are fine, just experiencing coughing and congestion. This is the first known case of the coronavirus afflicting great apes, but it has been detected in a few other zoo animals. One animal species hard hit globally by the virus is minks. Here in the U.S., COVID-19 cases are confirmed at 16 mink farms in four states: twelve in Utah, one in Michigan, one in Oregon, and two in Wisconsin. Farms in Europe performed mass culling, and while no mink farms here have culled their animals, thousands have died of COVID-19.
Why this Matters: The virus can mutate in animals and spread back to humans, producing newer —and potentially deadlier—variants of COVID-19, though this is rare. Danish mink farms produced a new strain of COVID named “Cluster 5” that has already infected at least twelve people. It is hard to control the spread of the disease in animals as well as humans, wreaking havoc on domestic animals and wild animal communities throughout the world.
COVID Spreads to Animals
These gorillas could pass the virus to the other members of their troop since they live in close contact within their enclosure. And previous research suggests that other primates may also be susceptible. The gorillas began coughing last Wednesday, and it’s still unclear whether the gorillas will have a serious reaction. In a press release from the San Diego Zoo, Lisa Peterson, executive director of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, said “ Aside from some congestion and coughing, the gorillas are doing well. The troop remains quarantined together and are eating and drinking. We are hopeful for a full recovery.”
This influx of infections in animals shows how interconnected our lives are with those of the animals that surround us. Across the country, the number of Americans diagnosed with COVID surpassed 22 million over the weekend, so we must be more careful than ever not to spread the virus to animals as well as our fellow humans.
To Go Deeper: The CDC suggests that it is rare for animals to spread COVID back to humans, but if you’re concerned about COVID spreading to your pets, be sure to keep them from interacting with strangers, and from roaming freely outside. See this page from the CDC for more details.
By Nilanga Jayasinghe, Manager of the Wildlife Conservation team at World Wildlife Fund Imagine living in a modern, densely populated city. On any given morning, you might expect to look out your window and see a stream of cars and pedestrians on their daily commute, bustling shops and restaurants selling their wares, or perhaps local […]
Guest Post by Azzedine Downes, President & CEO, International Fund for Animal Welfare IFAW has long been a leader in recognizing the inherent link between biodiversity and climate change, the existential threat both issues pose to life on our planet, and the critical need to address both these threats together. This week, the results of […]
President Biden: "Watch out for the cicadas. I just got one – it got me." pic.twitter.com/jfrik4bgpB — The Hill (@thehill) June 9, 2021 If you live in Washington, D.C. the cicadas are hard to ignore. But this week their mating-frenzied existence reached new levels of intrusion in day-to-day DC. On Tuesday evening, as AP’s Jonathan […]
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