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Gorrillas are Coughing

Humans are spreading the coronavirus to other animals. What does that mean for all of us?
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The noises of nature sometimes carry broader meanings. The howl of a wolf signifies that wildness endures. The gronk of Canada geese moving south overhead reminds Americans to brace for winter. The sound of a coughing gorilla signals that Covid-19 is an even bigger problem than we thought.

Scientists use another fancy term for when the spilling goes back, or onward, from a human to some nonhuman animal: anthroponosis.

Early last month, two gorillas started coughing at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, a compound of open-air enclosures for wild animals, an annex to the city zoo but separate, out in an arid valley just east of Escondido. These gorillas were among a group of eight residing amiably there, on a patch of artfully constructed habitat known as the Gorilla Forest. Testing of fecal samples showed that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, was among them. It could only have come from a person.


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As for wild animals in captivity, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, together with the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, has issued an alert to members, with bulleted points of advice, one of which is that people should practice social distancing from big cats such as tigers. (Most of us knew that without being told.) Another is that staff should immediately report anything unusual. Coughing, for instance.


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sevil regit
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Carpal Tunnel
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When any species becomes too numerous they will eventually be overwhelmed by starvation and disease. That the disease might spread to other species isn't surprising. We are looking at the future here, and it isn't pretty.


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I bet the gorillas got it from the food their handlers touched (or sneezed on). But my wife still has contacts at the zoo and Wild Animal Park. She tells me the gorillas got over it quickly, like a common cold. Other species may get it, but the only one I would worry about is domestic cats. Most other species either are solitary (meaning they don't spread it) or don't have much contact with humans (meaning they don't give it to us).

Isolation to prevent spread is another great reason to keep your pet cat inside. They could pick it up from another outdoor cat, and kill your grandmother. Pet ferrets, too.


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