The German branch of the animal activist group said Leipzig Zoo should consider the possibility that the nine-month-old named Rima’s death was related to the virus, the Daily Mail reported.
“The danger of apes being infected with [COVID-19] is thoroughly likely,” Yvonne Würz of PETA said in a statement. “As the closest relatives of humans, they are vulnerable to pathogens which cause respiratory illnesses in humans.”
But zookeepers insisted that the orangutan baby died from a serious illness unrelated to COVID-19, saying no staff or animals suffered any symptoms of the virus, according to the German newspaper Bild.
“She died at the start of April, and was already faint and in poor general health before that,” a zoo spokesperson said. “Neither staff nor animals have had coronavirus symptoms in our zoo. Therefore, we will not use up human screening capacity with unnecessary tests.”
The orangutan’s death comes after several big cats at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for the virus after being exposed to an infected zookeeper.