FACT CHECK: Does This Video Show An Orangutan That Learned To Wash Its Hands During The Coronavirus Pandemic?

Matt Noel | Fact Check Reporter

A video shared on Facebook purportedly shows an orangutan who started washing its hands after watching the zookeepers do so during the coronavirus pandemic.

“SMART: Sandra the orangutan started washing her hands because she saw all the zookeepers doing it repeatedly to protect against the coronavirus,” reads the caption.

Verdict: False

The video of the orangutan washing its hands was taken prior to the first reported coronavirus cases.

Fact Check:

Through a reverse image search, the Daily Caller discovered that the 16-second clip actually comes from a video posted on the Florida-based sanctuary Center for Great Apes’ Facebook page. The original video, posted Nov. 12, 2019, predates the first coronavirus case reported in the U.S. by roughly two months.


“Sandra has daily pools of water and really likes to wash things – her toys, her surroundings, and her hands!” reads the original caption. “Sandra loves to clean up! #orangutancaringweek #cleanhands #bubblesarebest.” (RELATED: No, Eating Alkaline Foods Won’t ‘Beat’ Coronavirus)

Featured in the video is Sandra, a 34-year-old orangutan who previously lived at zoos in Argentina and Spain, according to the Center for Great Apes website. The video of Sandra washing her hands was taken shortly after she arrived at the sanctuary in November 2019.

The Center for Great Apes posted the same video of Sandra again on March 14 with the caption saying that the orangutan “definitely scrubbed her hands for longer than 20 seconds.” That new caption likely references the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation of thorough hand-washing as a measure to protect against COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The CDC also advises people to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth, practice social distancing and wear cloth face covers in public to reduce the risk of contracting the new coronavirus.

Matt Noel

Fact Check Reporter
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