SA chimps recover from respiratory virus

·2-min read

Chimpanzees at South Australia's Monarto Safari Park have recovered from a respiratory virus that swept through the troop, forcing the temporary closure of their exhibit.

The 12 chimps, ranging in ages from two to 43, were diagnosed with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) about two weeks ago.

They were placed in quarantine under the care of zoo veterinarians and their keepers.

But safari park director Peter Clark said after receiving cups of homemade soup, hot lemon and honey tea, and regular doses of paracetamol, they have now recovered sufficiently for the chimp platform to be reopened from Friday.

"The last few weeks were worrying as Tsotsi (a male) was really quite poorly, while the others had varying degrees of illness," Mr Clark said.

"However, they have now all made a great recovery thanks in part to their resilience but also due to the wonderful TLC they received from keepers and the vet team."

As well as messages of support from people across Australia, well wishes flooded in from the UK, the USA and Canada.

The recent outbreak was the first time RSV had been detected in Monarto's chimps.

It is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia among infants under one year of age and is usually spread when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes.

The park also announced on Thursday that one of the chimps, 28-year-old Hannah, is pregnant with her second baby.

"Her first born, Hope, is now three-years-old and is an absolute delight," Mr Clark said.

"Visitors often see the two playing together and we have no doubt that Hannah will be as wonderful a mum to her newborn, which is expected in November."

Chimpanzees are listed as an endangered species with an estimated 170,000 left in existence.

In the wild, they are vulnerable to poaching, habitat loss, and diseases such as the Ebola virus.

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