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Brentwood School

Column: Gorillas test positive for COVID-19 at the San Diego Zoo

According to the Oxford Dictionary, germophobia is defined as “an extreme fear of germs and obsession with cleanliness.” Although, if I was given this definition out of context, I would likely affiliate it with the majority of the public’s reaction to the worldwide pandemic we are all facing, COVID-19.

Constantly wearing masks, washing your hands until your skin feels dry and applying an immense amount of Purell is all part of the new norm we face during the pandemic. Throughout being quarantined at home, if I ever plan to step outside for a breath of fresh air or to walk my dogs, along with tying my shoes and locking the front door, I always remember to put on my mask prior to leaving.

Small efforts like these are what truly make a difference when it comes to stopping the spread of this daunting disease. As time has passed by, along with having concerns regarding constantly increasing hospitalization rates and numbers of infections, I have felt as though it has become more and more common to know someone who has contracted the disease.

I am no longer shocked when I hear this kind of news, because as we are continuing to discover, COVID-19 is highly contagious, and spreads like wildfire.

Although, as I was recently reading the morning news, I came across a headline that forced me to perform a double-take. At first, it seemed like any other headline regarding COVID-19, informing me that someone else had unfortunately contracted it. But then, I realized that this was not the case. As I re-read the Daily Herald headline, it stated the following:

Gorillas test positive for coronavirus at San Diego Park.

For once, I was shocked. Gorillas?

Throughout the time that I have been living through this pandemic, this was the first time I had heard anything regarding gorillas contracting the disease. It raised a level of fear and concern for me.

Gorillas are an endangered species which means that contracting COVID-19 could be even more detrimental to the decreasing numbers of their species across the globe. According to the Daily Herald, this is believed to be the first known case of COVID-19 among primates in the United States. 

According to the wildlife park’s director, Lisa Peterson, eight of the Gorillas that reside in the park are coughing. It is believed that they contracted this disease from one of the wildlife park’s care team members.

The Daily Herald explained that this member was asymptomatic and wore a mask at all times around the gorillas. The park has also been closed to the public since Dec. 6, 2020, because of California’s lockdown efforts. 

This news is especially shocking due to the fact that Gorillas are the first of any great ape species to contract the disease. Furthermore, scientists and health experts are wondering if it will have any great effect on these gorillas. 

Veterinarians are closely monitoring the gorillas and they are being given vitamins, fluid and food, Peterson told the Associated Press.

“Aside from some congestion and coughing, the gorillas are doing well,” Peterson said to the Associated Press.

As the gorillas react to the disease, health officials will be kept in the loop to ensure that they can learn from this very unfortunate situation and hopefully protect other gorillas around the world.