Gorilla tourism in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo has been suspended with the animals ‘put on lockdown’.
There are concerns the animals could be exposed to the deadly coronavirus which has killed over 90,000 people as at April 10, 2020.
Apes, including orangutans are already endangered and any outbreak of coronavirus among them could spell further doom for their survival.
Kirsten Gilardi of the Gorilla Doctors project told the BBC that “We don’t know if [coronavirus has] infected mountain gorillas; we have not seen any evidence of that.
But because mountain gorillas are susceptible to human pathogens, we know that they can develop respiratory illness.”
Dr Gilardi explained further that “Much of what we’re practising right now — in terms of social distancing and self-quarantine — are at the heart of the recommendations for protecting great apes as well.”
Meanwhile a primate biologist Serge Wich of the Liverpool John Moores University also told the BBC that “We don’t know, if they were to get infected, what the health effects would be.
But obviously given the health implications for people it’s a risk we do not want to take with great apes. So these precautions everyone’s taking are an important step to try to reduce that risk.”
Already a Tiger in the USA has tested positive for the virus and there fears that Gorillas in many African countries might catch the virus.
The animals are already vulnerable to human illnesses like the common cold and Ebola, according to experts.