06 Apr Our Germs in the Gorrilas’ Midst
Orin Levine, Huffington Post
You may have heard the news that a recently published report has revealed that the deaths of two mountain gorillas in 2009 — an adult female and a three-day old male — have been attributed to pneumonia. While not news at first blush, what is striking about these deaths is what researchers in Professor Ian Lipkin’s lab at Columbia University uncovered as the likely culprit: infections passed from humans to the gorillas.
With fewer than 780 mountain gorillas still remaining on the planet, the abrupt death of two of these noble creatures — which are classified as critically endangered, the highest risk category assigned to the world’s wild animals, has a measurable impact on the survival for the entire species.