The rule of six, mask wearing, even social distancing — the gorillas of Rwanda have seen it all. Because the 1,000 or so mountain gorillas are genetically so close to humans, they are also susceptible to Covid-19. The Rwandan government, which has done a commendable job preventing the spread of the disease among its 12 million people, has ramped up protocols to protect its gorillas too. Tourists, who must test negative for Covid shortly before visiting the apes, are restricted to groups of six, not the usual eight. Boots and hands are sanitised from an industrial-sized dispenser as guests cross into the gorillas’ sylvan habitat. They must wear a cloth mask while panting along the slippery forest paths, and a surgical one in the animals’ vicinity. During their hour with the primates, tourists must stand 10 metres back in a gorilla-scaled approximation of the two-metre rule — though, in fairness, the gorillas, sociable and unafraid, don’t always maintain it. The younger ones still brush your legs as they tumble and frolic through the foliage. The silverback still comes thundering out of the bamboo at a velocity that precludes proper social distancing.
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