COVID-19 caution at Fresno Chaffee Zoo after San Diego Zoo confirms gorilla’s positive test


FRESNO, California (KGPE) – Staff members at Fresno Chaffee Zoo are taking precautions after two gorillas at the San Diego Zoo recently tested positive for COVID-19. The Chaffee Zoo does not house gorillas – but the diagnosis proves that the disease can spread among animals.

A group of gorillas at the San Diego Zoo are being quarantined after showing symptoms of COVID-19. They join lions, tigers and, a dog who have all tested positive during the pandemic.

“More commonly we’re actually seeing human cases transfer to animals, so we’ve seen it in quite a few exotic felines, tigers and lions, and captive populations in the U.S. as well as in other counties,” said Fresno Chaffee Zoo Chief Veterinary Officer Shannon Nodolf.

The zoo is currently closed to the public, but staff members still use full safety protocols. Since the start of the pandemic, Nodolf says they have taken precautions to keep the animals, staff, and guests safe.

“Any time we’re in any of our animal’s spaces for species that we considered to be potentially susceptible. We have a full set of PPE, so we’re wearing gloves, we’re wearing full=face coverings, eye protection, we have disposable or reusable gowns that we’ll use in those areas so we’re not bringing contaminants in or out,” Nodolf said.

Nodolf says studies are being done to see if animals could give it to people.

“We’ve yet to see that virus contracted in people where we’ve been able to track down when a person has become ill from an animal source with the current strain that we’re seeing,” Nodolf said.

Nodolf adds that no animals at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo have shown any symptoms. All employees are screened for symptoms when they start work.

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