01:08 p.m., September 13, 2021
Much to the delight of their carers, all tests came back with negative results. But 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 tested the critically endangered primates last week. “Fortunately, the orangutans had no signs or symptoms.” The animals live in a nature park 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 was only at 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.