Gorillas return to enclosure at Milwaukee County Zoo after E. coli outbreak

Posted at 5:51 PM, Oct 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-04 18:51:15-04

Several months after the E.coli outbreak in the Milwaukee County Zoo's Silverback Gorilla exhibit, the Primate and Small Animals Curator Patricia Khan gives the all clear and the gorillas are back in their enclosure. 

April of 2018, two gorillas, Cassius and Naku died due to health complications caused by the E.coli contamination. The pair were parents to baby gorilla Zarah, who was relocated to Columbus after becoming an orphan. 

"That is very bittersweet for us. We miss her dearly. She would have lived here for many many years," said Khan. 

At the primate exhibit, visitors can see Maji, Shalia, and Suliman in their updated habitats.

The Milwaukee County Zoo was unable to pinpoint the exact cause for the infection. But Khan says the outbreak forced the zoo to sterilize and disinfect every inch of the habitats. 

"We've done things such as removing all sand substrate, replacing it with soft bedding that they can use we've modified all of the water system," said Khan.

The cleaning took months and Khan says that was intentional.   

"We have covered all bases. We have gone up and beyond every possible scenario that we thought might have taken place," says Khan. 

Visitors say they're just happy the gorillas are back. Victoria Rasmussen's family is visiting Milwaukee. She says coming to the zoo and hearing the good news about the primates makes her smile. 

"We love to hit different zoos throughout the states when we're traveling. So we decided to stop at the Milwaukee zoo today," said Rasmussen. 

Khan says the zoo is waiting to hear from the Gorilla Species Survival Plan on what will happen with the gorillas currently at the zoo.

They won't have any new information about possibly having new gorillas come in, or if any are leaving, for at least a month.