Apes receive experimental coronavirus vaccine

A troop of gorillas contracted the virus that causes COVID-19 at the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park.
Credit: Christina Simmons/San Diego Zoo

As biologists worry about the potential for the virus that causes COVID-19 to spread to wildlife, the San Diego Zoo is using an experimental vaccine for several apes at the zoo. The vaccine was initially developed for pets and is now being tested in minks. The zoo has vaccinated four orangutans and five bonobos with the experimental vaccine, which is not designed for human use. The vaccine deployment follows a troop of gorillas at the zoo’s Safari Park testing positive for the virus in January. All are recovering.

Apes are subject to human respiratory infections, and common cold viruses have led to deadly outbreaks in chimpanzees in Africa. But several other animals have also contracted the virus, including minks and several species of wild cats.

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