Just like humans, orangutans can get the coronavirus. And just like humans, zookeepers in Malaysia have now taken a nasal swab for a corona test on the great apes.
Kuala Lumpur – 30 orangutans had to have corona swabs on their noses in Malaysia. Much to the delight of their carers, all tests came back with negative results.
The faces of the great apes showed that they found the stick test just as uncomfortable as humans. It was the first time orangutans were tested for the virus in the Southeast Asian country.
“Some of the zookeepers had tested positive, so we didn’t want to take any chances,” said Sen Nathan, deputy director of the Sabah Wildlife Department on Borneo, which conducted the tests on the critically endangered primates last week. “Fortunately, there were no signs or symptoms with the orangutans.” The animals live in a nature reserve and rehabilitation center in the state of Sabah.
The monkeys with the orange-brown fur suffer particularly from the loss of their natural habitat. The jungle on Borneo is being cleared more and more to make way for palm oil plantations. Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) are listed on the IUCN Red List as “critically endangered”.
It has long been known that great apes – including gorillas and chimpanzees – are susceptible to the coronavirus. It wasn’t until the weekend that it became known that several lowland gorillas were apparently infected in the Atlanta Zoo in the USA. There will also be further tests for the orangutans in the future, Nathan said. dpa