Goliath, an aging male chimpanzee at the Chattanooga Zoo, will be given an echocardiogram by William Warren, M.D., a cardiologist at The Chattanooga Heart Institute at Memorial on Wednesday at the zoo. Ed Ramsay, DVM of the UT School of Veterinary Medicine, and several students as well as a veterinary cardiology resident, will be on hand to observe the echocardiogram. This is the third echo performed by Dr. Warren on a chimp at the Chattanooga Zoo.
“Heart disease is the number one cause of death of chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas living in captivity,” said Anthony Ashley, DVM, veterinarian at the Chattanooga Zoo. “We don’t anticipate finding any heart problems in Goliath from this test but if he does have heart disease we will consider our treatment options including putting him on a medication much like a person would be given. If there isn’t any sign of heart disease, we’ll have a baseline echo showing his normal heart that we can then compare with future echos.” Since chimpanzees can be very high strung, and the echo will take 15 to 20 minutes, Goliath will be slightly sedated for the test.
Dr. Warren said, "An echocardiogram is a sound wave test used to image heart muscle strength, heart muscle thickness, and heart valve function. Heart muscle weakness or heart muscle thickening (called cardiomyopathy) may be seen in chimpanzees just like in their human counterparts.”
In addition to providing zoo officials information on Goliath’s health, his echo and blood work will be sent to Zoo Atlanta as part of “The Great Ape Heart Project” a groundbreaking national project which researches heart disease in apes. The project is collecting echos and blood work from apes around the country with the ultimate goal of preventing heart disease in these animals.
To learn more about echocardiograms, visit heart.memorial.org and click on “services.”