Viral video shows orangutan washing hands

It looks like even primates are getting the message about washing their hands.

Sandra, an orangutan, went viral on the internet after video of her scrubbing away inside her home at the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula was posted online. Public health officials say handwashing is an important way to "stop the spread" of coronavirus.

Patti Ragan, the center's director said for Sandra, it just came naturally.

“They do wash things in water, they'll wash their food, they like to play in water,” Ragan said.

Ragan said orangutans, like 34 year old Sandra, are naturally curious primates.

“I think some of it is they see the staff cleaning the environment around them,” she said, “but I think a lot of it is them being interested in playing in water, and they do like washing. We sometimes give them baby shampoo, and they like to wash and make soap suds out of that.”

Ragan said great apes can catch the same diseases as humans, so they were practicing the same hygiene and social distancing at the center as everywhere else.

“We are putting their safety first right now, during the coronavirus situation. All our staff now are wearing lots of personal protective equipment as far as keeping social distance even from the apes -- as far as interactions, hand-feeding, and so-forth for their protection.”

They say they're looking for financial support, and also accepting donations of things like toys and foods for the apes, in these tough times. If you'd like to help, you can follow this link to their website.