I was sad to read that the gorillas at Prague Zoo had caught Covid. They showed signs of being tired, weren’t hungry, had a runny nose and a dry cough. The question is: Did they break lockdown rules?

Strict lockdown rules have been in place within the Czech Republic since mid December 2020, with all bars and restaurants closed and a nightime curfew in place. I visited the gorillas to discover how they caught Covid.

At first, the male gorilla, Richard, was very defensive until I adopted the submissive posture that I’d learned from watching Planet of the Apes movies. After that, he was ready to talk.

Richard the gorilla. Photo: Petr Hamerník, Prague Zoo

I asked Richard how he thought he’d caught Covid…

“Look, none of us have been out of our enclosures for months. Those stories about me visiting illegal underground bars in Prague are completely untrue. Why don’t you ask the lions, Jamvan and Suchi, what they’ve been up to?”.

Pictured is the female lion Suchi. Photo: Petr Hamerník, Prague Zoo

I showed Richard a photo that had been circulating in Prague.


“That’s ridiculous! He doesn’t look anything like me. I’m not even sure if that’s a real gorilla – it could be some human wearing a costume. Of course, back in the day when I lived in the Congo, I’d be out almost every night. But since I’ve been here, they didn’t even let me visit the local hospoda.”

I had to agree that the picture looked nothing like Richard. If he was, indeed, truthful and had been in lockdown for several months, then how did he catch Covid? I asked about social distancing.

“Well, we gorillas are social animals. I’ll admit to being closer than two metres to the female gorillas without wearing a mask. But they haven’t been out anywhere either. And the guy who brings us food, just leaves it at the door.”

I wanted to ask if Richard preferred Wolt, Bolt or Dáme jídlo, but instead, decided to ask who performed the PCR test.

“Some guy arrived wearing a stupid hat, denin shirt, chinos and boots. He was holding a stick with a cotton swab on the end and wanted to stick it up my nose.”

Stock photo of a paleontologist holding what looks like a giant Q-Tip – not an actual Prague Zoo staff member.

“I did my usual chest beating routine and threw some poop at him – he ran off pretty quickly. Later, I found that they’d tested the poop”.

So the mystery remains. If the gorillas at Prague Zoo have observed strict lockdown rules and have been self-isolating for several months – how did they catch Covid?


Before anyone goes crazy. This was intended to be a humorous, light-hearted story. We, of course, wish that all the animals at Prague Zoo are in good health. When this lockdown is over, please support Prague Zoo by visiting.