Wildlife experts have expressed concern about the coronavirus infecting gorillas, an endangered species that share 98.4 percent of their DNA with humans and are inherently social animals. Zoo officials are talking to experts who have been treating the coronavirus in humans in case the animals’ develop more severe symptoms.
The safari park on Monday added more safety measures for its staff, including requiring face shields and eye goggles when working in contact with the animals. San Diego Zoo Safari Park plans to share what it learns with health officials, conservationists and scientists to develop steps to protect gorillas in the forests of Africa.
Several gorillas at the San Diego zoo safari park have tested positive for coronavirus, with some experiencing symptoms, in what is believed to be the first outbreak among such primates in captivity. Gavin Newsom, California’s governor, confirmed at his Monday news briefing that at least two gorillas had tested positive while three were symptomatic.
It appears the infection came from a member of the park’s wildlife care team who 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, according to Peterson.
It remains unclear which animals can get infected, with a few pet dogs and cats reported to have gotten sick in some countries, including the US. 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 was on keeping them “healthy and thriving”. Zoo conditions have changed dramatically for gorillas in recent years, as our understanding of their biology has developed.
Gorillas were not described by science until 1847, and very few made their way alive to Europe or North America for 19th Century zoos to display. Since they were spared the centuries of barbaric exhibition suffered by chimpanzees and orang-utans, the history of gorillas in zoos is quite well documented.
The first five at London Zoo all died soon after their arrival, and the Council of the Zoological Society determined for a while not to send for anymore. After the First World War, however, the zoo did occasionally play host to a gorilla named John.
The public image of the gorilla was still of a brutal, aggressive monster, not of a peaceful, sociable vegetarian, and zoo cages did nothing to correct this misunderstanding. In this adventure-playground of a cage there is room for the whole range of social interactions that field workers observe in the wild.
Gerald Darrell has created a similar social environment at Jersey in a large outdoor compound with steep, barrier walls within which the eight or more gorillas thrive under the watchful eye of the zoo's best known inhabitant, the huge but gentle 'Rambo'. Some like Chester have chosen to stop keeping gorillas, suddenly aware of the shortcomings of their housing.
The new £600,000 gorillarium at Port Lymph is a high-tech masterpiece, borrowing heavily from Hewlett but adding a new dimension of height to the captive environment. And although few zoos have enough individuals for a genuine social troupe, the breeding successes now achieved with the species begin to make the future look promising.
We are not announcing a reopening date at this time and will provide updates on our websites and social media. Native to the Congo Basin, the western lowland gorilla is a quiet, peaceful and nonaggressive animal threatened by disease and poaching.
Short, thin, gray-black to brown-black hair covers the entire body except the face. A small white tuft of hair on their rump distinguishes infants up to four years old.
Mature silver back males have a saddle of white hair across the small of their backs. Western lowland females may go gray below the ears and on the neck and top of the head as they age.
Compared to other subspecies, western lowland gorillas have a more pronounced brow ridge and ears that appear small in relation to their heads. Adult male gorillas heads look conical due to the large bony crests on the top and back of the skull.
These crests anchor the massive muscles used to support and operate their large jaws and teeth. Gorillas arms are longer than their legs; when they move on all fours, they knuckle-walk, supporting their weight on the third and fourth digits of their curled hands.
Adult females weigh from 150 to 200 pounds (113.4 kilograms) and stand up to 4.5 feet (1.4 meters) tall. Native Habitat Western lowland gorillas are broadly distributed across the Congo Basin, and are more or less continuously distributed across the countries of Gabon, Central Africa Republic, Cameroon, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, and Congo.
Some examples of gorilla “body language” include crouching low and approaching from the side when being submissive; walking directly when confident and standing, slapping their chests and advancing when aggressive. Food/Eating Habits Gorillas are primarily herbivorous, eating the leaves and stems of herbs, shrubs and vines.
Adult male gorillas eat about 45 pounds (32 kilograms) of food per day. In the afternoon, individuals are separated, so each animal gets its share of preferred food items.
Morning and evening foods include chow, greens, fruits and vegetables. Forage items placed in hay for the gorillas include popcorn, sunflower seeds, peanuts, “enrich bits,” beans and diced fruits and vegetables.
Some gorillas favorite browse; options are Bradford pear, willow, mulberry with berries and maple. There are three feeding behaviors sometimes observed in gorillas in human care that can bother visitors.
Biologists do not entirely understand why gorillas exhibit this behavior in human care. A few ideas include starch or sugar content, mineral recapture or the food tasting good.
Provision of forage foods, increased smaller feedings and providing browse seem to reduce this behavior in some individuals. Gorillas do not have very efficient digestive systems for a high fiber diet, so unprocessed food can be found in their feces.
Reproduction and Development duration and frequency of sexual activity in gorillas are low in comparison to other great apes. The reproductive success of males depends upon the maintenance of exclusive rights to adult females.
They have an instinctive grasp behavior seen in other primates allowing them to hold on to their mothers' chests. For the first couple of years, gorilla infants grow at twice the rate of a human baby.
While ovulating, the female signals her receptiveness to the male by her closer physical proximity to him, eye contact or staring, or displaying her rear end. As females become sexually mature, they transfer family groups or join lone males.
So-called “black back” males are generally eight to 12 years of age and sexually mature but not yet physically full-grown. At midday, adults usually nap in a day nest while the young wrestle and play games.
They have been plagued by exceptionally high levels of disease and hunting, which has resulted in a population decline of over sixty percent in the past 20 to 25 years. This change occurred when it was discovered that one of two subspecies, the western lowland gorilla, had been devastated by the commercial bush meat trade, the Ebola virus and the spread of logging, which alters forest structure and facilitates poaching.
Cross River gorillas are also subject to hunting and habitat loss due to forest conversion, and their current population is small and fragmented. You'll learn even more and share the importance of saving species with classmates and teachers, too.
The Zoo is home to six western lowland gorillas that reside at the Great Ape House: Bar aka is an adult male, or silver back, who resides in the gorilla troop with Mandala, Malaya, Kibitz and More.
Bar aka has a large crest on his head and a saddle of silver hair covering his back. Mandala is an adult female who resides in the gorilla troop with Bar aka, Malaya, Kibitz and More.
She earned the nickname “Super Mom” due to having six offspring: Kana, Kigali, Tempe, Kwame, Tojo and Kibitz. Malaya is an adult female who resides in the gorilla troop with Bar aka, Mandala, Kibitz and More.
Kibitz is an adult female who resides in the gorilla troop with Bar aka, Mandala, Malaya and More. Kibitz is eager to participate in training and regularly seeks out play sessions with More.
He is one of the Zoo’s most playful gorillas and often demonstrates a mix of adult and juvenile behaviors. More is an infant male who resides in the mixed-sex gorilla troop with Bar aka, Malaya, Mandala and Kibitz.