Three of the Chattanooga Zoo's seven chimpanzees received heart checkup this week as part of their yearly physical exam.
Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in chimpanzees in captivity, according to a news release from Memorial Hospital, so Scottie, Shirley and Katrina each had an echocardiogram. The test provides images of the heart valves and closeup views of cardiac structures from several angles.
Dr. William Warren, a cardiologist at the Chattanooga Heart Institute at Memorial Hospital, was on hand to read the images and determine the health of each chimpanzee's heart. He said a chimpanzee's heart is very similar to a human heart.
"We are happy to report all three chimpanzees are in good heart health," the release states.
This is the seventh year Chattanooga Zoo has partnered with the Chattanooga Heart Institute for this procedure.
In addition to providing zoo officials with information on their chimpanzees' heart health, the echocardiograms and blood work will be sent to Zoo Atlanta as part of "The Great Ape Heart Project," a national project that studies heart diseases in great apes. The project consists of gathering echocardiograms and blood work from great apes nationwide within Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited institutions with the ultimate goal of preventing heart disease in these animals.
Note: This story was changed to correct the location of the Chattanooga Heart Institute.