Why Ebola is Killing Gorillas

A savage outbreak of the virus has been wiping out tens of thousands of apes and chimpanzees. Epidemiologists have just figured out the reason

Anwar Hussein / Getty

A male gorilla sits in the Gorilla Kingdom at ZSL London Zoo on March 29, 2007.

There's nothing like an outbreak of Ebola virus to guarantee screaming headlines. That's largely due to the mid-1990s bestseller The Hot Zone, which described the disease's horrifying course in gruesome detail, leaving many readers to believe that Ebola posed a looming threat to human existence. The truth is, however, that since the first recorded human cases in the 1970s, only a few hundred people have died from it. Of all the diseases you need to be afraid of, Ebola is near the bottom of the list.

Unless, that is, you're a gorilla. Over the past decade or so, tens of thousands...

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