Can gorillas catch COVID-19?

As a gorilla-lover and GRACE supporter, we know you may be concerned about whether COVID-19 transmits from humans to gorillas.  The simple fact is, we don’t know yet!

However, since we share 98% of our DNA with gorillas, experience shows that all too often, if we can catch it, so can they.  An example of this is Ebola, an outbreak of which is just now slowing down in our province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Gorillas are severely vulnerable to respiratory infections and this is especially concerning in a place like the DRC with a limited health care system and where culturally the “social distancing” could prove difficult. So, we are using an abundance of caution with our Grauer’s gorilla family at GRACE.


Our Ebola outbreak experience may prove helpful!

Illustrates staff washing hands during Ebola and COVID-19 outbreaks

GRACE Handwash Station

A silver lining of the recent Ebola outbreak near our GRACE facility is that we have successfully established strict protocols for protecting our Grauer’s gorillas from Ebola. We have already extended this safety measure for COVID-19, as a precaution. This includes steps like:

  • Limiting the GRACE facility to staff only, rather than welcoming members of the community
  • Limiting staff travel
  • Mandating wearing of face masks and gloves
  • Showering and a change of clothes when entering the GRACE facility
  • Regular handwashing throughout the day
  • Plus, a number of other measures

GRACE Staff at Entrance Shower


We have top experts involved…

Fortunately, we also have many excellent advisors and experts who partner with us to ensure our gorillas are well cared for. This includes husbandry experts from a number of premier US-based zoos, scientists and veterinarians, and partners like IUCN Species Survival Commission, the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, and Gorilla Doctors – all of who have been very quick to publish COVID-19 safety measures and guidelines to protect our apes. We are monitoring these sources carefully and daily.

So, please know that we are actively doing whatever we can to protect our precious GRACE’s gorillas.

How you can help

As you might imagine, non-profits are notoriously vulnerable during times of market chaos, since the giving ability of our generous donors is challenged. Plus, when our local needs are so very pressing, gorillas far away may not seem like your primary concern. We get it! However, we can’t compromise on care for our critically endangered animals. Our enhanced bio-safety protocols require we purchase extra supplies such as face masks and gloves, disinfectants and bleach in addition to added demand on staff to implement our rigorous protocols.

As you can imagine, this makes weathering financial storms very tricky, particularly on the heels of recovering from a long-term Ebola outbreak.

If you are in a position of making a “COVID-19 Resilience Gift” to help us ride these tumultuous times, please know that your gift will be especially appreciated and needed more than usual!