Orangutan sums up how much we all hate doing Covid tests

A group of 30 orphaned Orangutans were tested in Sabah, Malaysia after their keepers fell ill with coronavirus (Picture: Malaysia’s Sabah Wildlife Department/AFP)

Testing for Covid is crucial to keep everyone safe during the pandemic – but that doesn’t mean anyone enjoys it.

One orangutan perfectly encapsulated how we all feel about having a swab stuck up our nose in a picture.

The great ape is one of 30 orangutans that recently underwent testing at a centre for orphaned orangutans in Sabah, Malaysia, where cases are rising.

The primates’ facilities were plunged into lockdown after a number of keepers fell ill with coronavirus.

Fortunately, it turned out that none of the animals had contracted the disease.

But testing will now become a regular fixture at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan and the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park following the scare.

Concerns were raised that the primates could be infected after several gorillas at the San Diego Zoo proved apes can catch the virus back in January.

Orangutans share 96.4% of human DNA and it is ‘vital to test them’ in order to protect the species, Orangutan Appeal UK’s Founder and Chairwoman Susan Sheward said.

Sabah Wildlife Department assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said staff were worried as the virus could cause a setback in the animals’ rehabilitation.

Thankfully, none of the great apes tested positive (Picture: Malaysia’s Sabah Wildlife Department)
Testing will now become a regular thing at the facility (Picture: Malaysia’s Sabah Wildlife Department/AFP)
Orangutans share 96.4% of human DNA (Picture: Malaysia’s Sabah Wildlife Department/AFP)

In a statement, he added: ‘We believe that primates could also be susceptible.’

‘With all results coming back negative, this is a testament to the stringent care being carried out by our staff.’

The department’s veterinary team has been instructed by director Augustine Tuugato to continue monitoring all the orangutans for symptoms, while a testing schedule has been implemented.

Mr Tuuga said: ‘This is the first time that any orangutan has been tested using a Covid-19 antigen test in the whole of Malaysia. 

‘It is of our utmost priority to make sure the health and well-being of the orangutans are given the best veterinary care possible.’

He thanked NGO Orangutan Appeal UK for helping to get funding for Covid-19 tests, pulse oximeters, and preventive medication.

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