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The latest victims of Ebola? Pets — abandoned at zoos in Africa

From The Washington Post (source link):

As the Ebola epidemic continues to sweep across West Africa, concern is so great that local zoos are now taking in abandoned wild animals that had once been considered pets, out of fear that the monkeys and cats could spread the deadly virus.

At one Ivory Coast zoo, vets have set up a quarantine zone, with green cages of animals that have been isolated to prevent exposure to the virus, according to an AFP report.

The cages at the Abidjan facility held a two-year-old chimpanzee and a red baboon whose owner had left it on the street. A monkey named Louise sat in one cage, while another cage held two males that hadn’t been named.

“As soon as we can, we’ll put the (isolated arrivals) in the zoo,” with their own species, the zoo’s deputy director, Richard Champion, told AFP.

More than 2,700 people have died during this year’s Ebola epidemic, according to the World Health Organization. Thousands more confirmed, probable and suspected cases have been reported.

Many have suggested that fruit bats might be to blame for this outbreak, and the WHO also warns that people “should reduce contact with high-risk infected animals (i.e. fruit bats, monkeys or apes) in the affected rainforest areas.”

There are no confirmed cases of Ebola in the Ivory Coast, and the animals that have been taken in by the zoo are not infected by the deadly virus.

AFP notes: “Even if they are not carrying the Ebola virus, the beasts taken in by the zoo could be infected with a range of diseases, and at risk of contaminating other animals.”

But visitors remain wary.

Take, for example, one frightened woman whom zoo director Samouka Kane remembered. Kane told AFP that the woman walked in “on tiptoe,” and told him she was looking for the virus.

“I told her that Ebola doesn’t hide in the bushes,” he said. “Nor in the eyes of an animal.”

Then, there was this case, detailed by AFP:

The zoo’s vet, Daouda Soro, said that he had been summoned in haste to Abidjan’s military hospital to deal with “an animal who was spreading panic.” When he got there, he found a “very small (monkey) who was sleepy but shivering with hunger.”

“It was above all Ebola that caused the panic,” Soro told AFP.

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