Although the exact source of the coronavirus outbreak is unknown, it has been widely reported to have originated with wildlife. Since then, animals infected with COVID-19 include a small number of pet cats and dogs, farmed minks, and a group of lions and tigers in a New York zoo. Most of these animals were in contact with people who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19, before they became ill. Contagion risk for great apes “Global mobility increases the risk for humans to contract diseases from animals, but it also increases the risk for humans to transmit diseases to animals, including great apes,” said Dr. Johannes Refisch, Program Manager for the Great Apes Survival Partnership at the UN Environment Program. It is not yet confirmed whether great apes, an endangered primate group including orangutans, chimpanzees and gorillas who share the greatest similarity in DNA to humans, are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, although Côte d’Ivoire had seen chimpanzees infected with the human coronavirus OC43 in the past. A young female orangutan is rescued in East Kalimantan by the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) Borneo. Photo courtesy of The Orangutan Project. The Ebola outbreak provides a notable example of a pandemic that devastated both humans and great apes: the hemorrhagic fever led to a surge in mortality rates of up to 95% among gorillas. It’s estimated that the already shrinking population numbers would take at least 130 years to recover. Suspension of great ape tourism is another threat The Virunga National Park…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer