18 of 20 gorillas at Atlanta’s zoo have contracted COVID

Western lowland gorillas are seen in their habitat at Zoo Atlanta on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Atlanta. Nearly all of the zoo's 20 gorillas are showing symptoms of having contracted the coronavirus from a zoo staff worker, according to zoo officials. The confirmed cases of those gorillas tested have come back positive for the COVID-19 Delta variant. (AP Photo/Ron Harris) (Ron Harris, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ATLANTA – Officials on Tuesday said at least 18 of the 20 gorillas at Atlanta’s zoo have now tested positive for COVID-19.

Zoo Atlanta had announced the first positive tests among the gorillas on Friday after employees noticed the gorillas had been coughing, had runny noses and showed changes in appetite.

The zoo says it is using monoclonal antibodies to treat the gorillas at risk of developing complications from the virus.

Officials say there’s no evidence that the gorillas can pass the virus back to humans and visitors are too far away to be infected by gorillas.

The outbreak occurred just days before the zoo had hoped to obtain a veterinary vaccine for the primates.