A number of gorillas and lions in Rotterdam Zoo tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The animals show flu-like symptoms: they are listless, have less appetite, sometimes a slight cough and the gorillas also have stomach and intestinal problems. From other zoos in the United States and elsewhere, we know that the condition of the animal before infection is important for the course of the disease. Fortunately, our animals have a good condition and no underlying health risks. Therefore, we expect the course of the disease to be mild in our animals.
There has been no risk to visitors. In a normal situation, there is already no direct contact between visitors and these species. Moreover, the enclosures of the gorillas and lions were immediately closed at the first corona suspicions, so the animals were quarantined. The animals are now temporarily not visible to the public either.
It is not known how the animals became infected. Since the beginning of the corona crisis in 2020, the zoo keepers have been working according to a special corona protocol with protective measures (mouth masks, gloves, 1.5 metres distance, extra hygiene, staying at home and testing in case of complaints). Although we do not know for sure, it is suspected that an employee without any symptoms (asymptomatic) was the source of the infection.
We are now giving the animals plenty of rest to recover. The zoo keepers and the vet are keeping an extra eye on the gorillas and lions. They support them with medication where necessary.
It is the first time since the outbreak of the corona pandemic that animals in Rotterdam Zoo test positive for SARS-COV-2.