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Zoo Miami Gorilla Receives COVID-19 Test

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ZOO MIAMI  – A fight between brothers at Zoo Miami landed “Shango” the lowland gorilla in the animal ER and while he was there he got a COVID test.  Zoo Miami remains closed due to the virus.

“Shango,” a 31-year-old male lowland gorilla was immobilized and transported to the Zoo Miami animal hospital on Wednesday for treatment of several bite wounds inflicted by his 26-year-old brother, “Barney,” during a recent confrontation.  He also received X-rays, vaccinations, an ultrasound, a TB test, a bronchoscopy, and had his teeth cleaned as part of the zoo’s overall preventative medicine program.

In addition, because of the detection of a low grade fever and in an abundance of caution, COVID-19 tests were also administered.

The test was negative.

Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill explains that it is not known if gorillas can contract the coronavirus but big cats can.  Also he says at least 15 employees have tested positive for the virus in this interview with 850WFTL.

Ron MaGill Zoo Miami gorilla COVID test

Both Shango and Barney were born at the San Francisco Zoo and arrived at Zoo Miami in May of 2017 and have resided together in Zoo Miami’s gorilla habitat since their arrival.  Conflicts between adult male gorillas in bachelor groups are common but they display a lot of posturing and rarely result injure each other. Unfortunately,  the two brothers got into it and the dust-up resulted in bite wounds.

PIX: Zoo Miami Gorilla Treated For Bite Wounds After Confrontation With His Brother

Though most injuries that occur during these confrontations do not require immobilization, Shango was observed being very protective of the arm where the most serious bite occurred and his behavior indicated to the staff that closer examination was necessary.

Once the 433-pound great ape was safely immobilized, the Animal Health team was able to clean and treat the bite wounds which were quite deep but fortunately did not appear to result in any permanent damage.


Shango has his right arm X-Rayed at the sight of a bite wound to insure that there is no skeletal damage.(Ron Magill/Zoo Miami)

Shango has his right arm X-Rayed at the sight of a bite wound to insure that there is no skeletal damage. (Ron Magill/Zoo Miami)

He has since been returned to the gorilla area where he will be closely monitored as he continues to heal.

Magill says it is still not clear if Shango will be reintroduced to Barney.  Their reunion will depend on behavioral assessments made by the staff combined with the healing progress of his injuries.