Abstract # 4427 Poster # 95:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 20, 2013 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 9 (SG Foyer ABC) Poster Presentation


M. Dindo1,2, B. Boyd1,3 and H. Murphy1,2
1Great Ape Heart Project, 800 Cherokee Ave. SE, Atlanta, GA 30315, USA, 2Zoo Atlanta, 800 Cherokee Ave. SE, Atlanta, GA 30315, 3Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, 1405 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30307
     When an ape develops cardiac disease, they often do not show behavioral signs until the disease has progressed too far. Cardiac ultrasounds are an excellent diagnostic tool for detecting heart disease, but these exams historically occurred only during infrequent, sedated physical exams. As part of an initiative of the Great Ape Heart Project, Zoo Atlanta has developed an awake ultrasound training program for monitoring its gorillas (N = 22; Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and orangutans (N = 13; Pongo spp.) in collaboration with volunteer sonographers. Apes are trained to position in sternal recumbency with arms extended over their head for keeper safety. Transthoracic echocardiography has been most effective, providing dynamic evaluation of both the structure and the functional capacity of the heart. M-mode, two-dimensional, and Doppler images are collected using a GE Vivid-I portable ultrasound machine. Measurements of cardiac parameters are being compiled to develop reference values. The initial sample size for trained, awake cardiac exam evaluations was 2, and following the implementation of the training program, the total number of apes being trained for exams is 18, ranging in age from 1.5 to 52 years. Of the 4 apes known to have heart disease in Zoo Atlanta’s collection, these exams have led to stricter monitoring of cardiac medications and improvement in heart function. The Great Ape Heart Project recommends collecting awake ultrasound measurements every six to nine months in order to monitor an ape's heart health closely.