Gorillas and Humans

Your concern with gorilla conservation is appreciated.1 We do, however, have a problem with the concept of permitting human tours in the wild animals' living areas. Having spent more than 40 years studying the relationship between human and nonhuman primate infections, we now recognize that cross-infections between humans and nonhuman primates are common. We might say, to the detriment of both. To this end we could cite Marburg [virus], Ebola, monkeypox, hepatitis A, possibly HIV infections of humans, resulting from contact with nonhuman primates and their excreta. There is also evidence that gorillas were fatally infected with rubella virus following exposure to tourists.

Although we are aware of the thoughts of many with regard to animal experimentation, animal research has done much to improve human lives. The need for animals in research is unfortunately necessary. Antibody studies find nonhuman primates [have] antibodies to many of the...

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