POWELL, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is extending the lives of six great apes suffering from heart disease with the help of tiny monitors.
A team of top medical and veterinary professionals have implanted six great apes with cardiac monitors to extend their lives at the Columbus zoo. The apes included orangutans, gorillas, and bonobos, a species that shares 98% of the same DNA as humans.
The team performed the procedures over three days to implant the small cardiac monitors, a device about one-third the size of AAA battery, into the apes’ chests. The monitors are the same used for humans and are tracking the apes for irregular heartbeats.
The apes that received the monitors are experiencing the same type of health problems affecting humans, like high blood pressure. The six include bonobos Jimmy (42) and Maiko (38), orangutans Dumplin (48) and Sulango (29), and silverback gorillas Mac (38) and Ktembe (25).
“It’s remarkable how similar the hearts of these species are to those of human patients,” said Dr. Ilana Kutinsky, cardiologist from the Great Ape Heart Project, in a release. “It means we can use similar treatments we apply to our human patients. Tracking the heart rhythms of these orangutans, bonobos, and gorillas will provide the zoo’s veterinarians critical information about how to best manage any cardiac issues that arise.”
Now that the monitors are implanted, the animal care team will ensure the apes move near a receiver that will upload the data. Experts will monitor the information in real time and send a clinical alert if they see anomalies.
“Coming together and extending the cardiac care network is exactly what’s needed to help these great apes, whose cardiac health issues can often go undetected in the earlier stages just as in humans, live longer, healthier lives,” said Dr. Marietta Danforth, Great Ape Health Project director.