PETA is alleging that a baby orangutan at a German zoo may have died of the coronavirus. The zookeepers deny the claim. Leipzig Zoo announced that nine-month-old orangutan, Rima, had died last week. The zoo did not disclose the cause of death.

Zoos in the United States have reported that animals are infected with the coronavirus, including tigers at the Bronx Zoo. And an orangutan sanctuary in Indonesia announced it would not be releasing animals into the wild for fear they would catch the virus. Leipzig Zoo denies that any employees or animals were infected or showed symptoms.

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According to PETA specialist Yvonne Würz, “The danger of apes being infected with SARS-CoV-2 is thoroughly likely. As the closest relatives of humans, they are vulnerable to pathogens which cause respiratory illnesses in humans. Even diseases which are not deadly in humans have previously proved fatal in animals.”

“It’s difficult for us to respond to unqualified statements like this from PETA,” the zoo spokeswoman said, “The dead baby was not tested for coronavirus. She died at the start of April, and was already faint and in poor general health before that. Neither staff nor animals have had coronavirus symptoms in our zoo. Therefore, we will not use up human screening capacity with unnecessary tests.”

Würz also drew parallels to humans staying inside during coronavirus and animals being kept unnecessarily in zoos. “Because of the quarantine measures related to coronavirus, many people can imagine what it means to be locked inside for weeks at a time,” she said.

Scientists believe that the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, started at an exotic animal market in Wuhan, China. You can help stop the incidence of viruses like these by signing this petition to ban the wildlife trade.

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