Trigger Communications has seen it’s fair share of accolades, including an Anvil, for their world class work with the Calgary Zoo. Making appearances this time around is a dog with a sock on it’s nose, a cat with a rubber glove parrot hat, and another cat with giraffe boot for a neck as illustrated above.
Cardiovascular disease can manifest in progressive heart failure or sudden cardiac death in humans and other animals. That is why Taronga Zoo enlisted the expertise of veterinary cardiologist Niek Beijerink during a recent health check of its resident Sumatran Orang-utans.
The Zoo is home to two adult Orang-utans, Willow, a 58kg female, and Jantan, a 96.8kg male. Orang-utans are vulnerable to many of the same diseases that affect humans – gastrointestinal upsets, flu signs and runny noses. In Orang-utan rehabilitation facilities overseas, common health problems include gastrointestinal parasites and gastrointestinal disease outbreaks due to agents including salmonella or shigella. Male Orang-utans sport a particularly large laryngeal sac that is inflated to create a loud roaring noise, known as a long call. Several days prior to the scheduled examination they were given haloperidol, a dopamine agonist with similar pharmacological effects to phenothiazines, to reduce anxiety and keep them calm during induction. Keepers had also conditioned the Orang-utans to accept a mucosal atomiser device (also known as MAD) which creates a fine mist of a drug to facilitate trans-mucosal absorption.
The pair, were transported to the Zoo’s veterinary hospital where they were intubated and maintained on isoflurane in oxygen. The annual examination is an opportunity for the Zoo veterinarians to perform a thorough physical examination, attend to dental disease if present, collect samples and administer routine vaccinations. The Zoo’s Orang-utans are all vaccinated against encephalomyocarditis or EMC, a virus associated with acute cardiomyopathy and death in this species. Prior to the availability of a vaccine this was a problem in the Zoo, with a number of animals succumbing to sudden cardiac death.
According to Vogelnest, the reservoir for the virus is rodents, so pest management is a vital element of prevention.
The Zoo, in conjunction with the NSW Department of Agriculture, developed a vaccine which is used routinely in their Orang-utans and other susceptible species.
As Orang-utans are susceptible to tuberculosis, routine TB-testing is also undertaken during examinations. While heart disease is not a major health issue affecting captive Orang-utans, it has been identified as a major health issue in other primate species such as Gorillas and chimpanzees in North America. One of the of the aims of the Great Ape Heart Project is to determine the reference ranges for cardiac structure, function and electrical condition in each of the great ape species, design an assessment protocol for investigation of cardiovascular disease in great apes and establish cardiac diagnostic, treatment and prevention strategies, including dietary modification if this is required. Sydney University companion animal cardiologist Niek Beijerink was happy to provide his services.
The signs of heart failure, when they do occur, are very similar to those reported in humans and dogs: lethargy, coughing, difficulty breathing, ascites and exercise intolerance. According to Beijerink, the Orang-utans’ hearts weren’t too different from the canine hearts he examines more commonly.
Beijerink admits to turning the probe on himself as an example of a primate to enable him to echo primates accurately and effectively.
According to Beijerink, neither of the Orang-utans had evidence of cardiovascular disease on examination – a not unexpected finding. Further data generated by veterinarians for the Great Ape Project will provide additional information that will be helpful for Zoo veterinarians assessing the cardiovascular health of Orang-utans. Zoo veterinarian Frances Hulst is currently in the Congo working at a large chimpanzee sanctuary that is supported by the Taronga Conservation Society Australia.


There are times when visitors to zoological institutions express concern over the health, care, or welfare of animals within the collection.
In terms of mental states, we want to make sure animals have the ability to develop and express species-appropriate behaviors, live in species-typical social groups, and have some choice and control within their environment.
When we talk about emotional states, we want animals to have the ability to experience positive emotions such as surprise or excitement and not suffer from negative emotions like fear or anxiety. San Diego Zoo Global is an international conservation organization that has been saving species for over 95 years. This is the terrifying moment a woman was attacked by a polar bear after jumping into its zoo enclosure.The 32-year-old leapt over bars at Berlin Zoo during the bears' feeding time yesterday. It is not easy to access the enclosure, which is surrounded by a fence, a line of prickly hedges and a wall. The woman's cardigan hangs from the polar bear's jaws after the attackHeiner Kloes, a zoo spokesman, said keepers pushed the huge bear away before pulling the woman out.She was taken to a hospital for treatment where she is now recovering after undergoing surgery to heal her wounds. Dan Piraro has been a supporter of animals and animal activists for many years, even participating in local fundraisers. Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants is committed to the retirement of the two surviving elephants at Woodland Park Zoo to PAWS sanctuary—NOT to another zoo.
DISCLAIMER: This website is NOT affiliated with or funded by the Woodland Park Zoological Society (Woodland Park Zoo or WPZ). The first generation ads were very good and included a sheepdog with a sprinker for antlers, a dog, hanging bat-like from the roof, and another dog wearing camel humps in the form of a bra. The newest iterations combine beautifully executed photography and solid design with the use of domestic objects in original ways. But diagnosing early heart disease is challenging when little is known about normal cardiovascular function in a particular species.
Aside from attending to routine health care and husbandry needs, annual health exams in zoos are an excellent opportunity to collect baseline data, which becomes important in diagnosing and monitoring treatment of disease.
The inseparable pair have enjoyed excellent health, thanks to the Zoo’s proactive approach to their well-being. Many such outbreaks are due to contaminated or spoiled food and can be prevented through excellent husbandry and hygiene. The first is their intelligence – just like us, they have a propensity to try to avoid the doctor. Fortunately, in all zoo veterinary procedures there is a plan B (and usually a plan C, D and E). Medetomidine was delivered in this way, providing adequate sedation to facilitate easy darting with a combination of tiletamine hypochloride and zolazepam hypochloride, a rapidly acting sedative. Intravenous fluid support was provided and blood pressure was monitored throughout the procedure.
Certain species are more susceptible that others – for example Orang-utans and Chimpanzees are susceptible while Gorillas and humans less so, it will kill African elephants but disease has not been reported in Asian elephants. The Great Ape Heart Project, based at Atlanta Zoo, was established to address what was seen as a critical need to investigate and understand cardiovascular disease in great apes. He performed a full cardiovascular examination, including auscultation, echocardiogram and an electrocardiogram (ECG).
The beautiful thick hair coat covering the Orang-utans made it more challenging to obtain a good quality ECG or echo.
He routinely uses an ultrasound designed for human echocardiography, with an array of probes that can be changed depending on the size of the patient. Around 70 chimpanzees will be anaesthetised for cardiovascular assessment, generating a large data set that will benefit this and other primate species.


At the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, not only do we want to make sure animals do not have any chronic health issues, but we want to make sure each and every animal is thriving within its environment and is provided with a natural, well-balanced diet. In order to make certain animals have the ability to experience some of these positive emotions, we need to continually strive to make their lives less predictable.
It is everything about an animal: the way it is cared for, the natural and individual history of the individual, and using science to ensure that every individual animal is thriving. Despite six zookeepers' efforts to distract the four predators kept in the enclosure, the woman was bitten several times on her arms and legs. She was bitten by one of the four older polar bears in the enclosure and not by the famous Knut, who took Germany by storm as a cub after he was hand-raised by a keeper. A Zoo environment deprives the elephants of space, social interaction, and mental stimulation causing their physical and psychological deterioration. It is an independent website sponsored by the Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, a project of the Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN). The second generations ads, this time with fewer dogs, included more creativity and have also been quite popular judging from the amount of comments on this Flickr stream. The ads are perfectly suited to capture the imaginations of parents and children alike which are exactly the kind of customers the Zoo would like to attract. The down side of having this large laryngeal sac is that it is a common site for infections.
The Project involves a central database in which to store data about cases, coordinate heart research activities and promote communication between zoos, research facilities and sanctuaries.
This is vital as Beijerink’s patients vary tremendously in size – from a tiny kitten with a congenital heart defect to a 70kg Great Dane with DCM. How do we know that we are taking the best possible care of animals within zoos and aquariums? If you have read some of my other blog posts about animal enrichment, you would know about some of the research we are conducting to examine animal preferences to ensure we are meeting the needs, both physical and psychological, of our animals. Often times, people think a zoological exhibit is too small for an animal, but what can be equally, if not more, important than the size of an exhibit is the complexity of an exhibit. In the end, research is what is necessary to guarantee we are providing the highest levels of welfare for the animals under our care. In addition, providing some choice or control within an animal’s environment is what makes their behavior meaningful, and every day our dedicated animal care staff provides environmental enrichment for the animals to help meet these goals. Removing subjective thoughts or opinions from decision making and using scientific evidence helps ensure high levels of welfare. We are simply trying to put a scientific framework around what our animal care staff does so well to ensure we are meeting the needs of the animals. I consider myself very fortunate to work with an amazing group of animal care and veterinary professionals who are committed to taking an evidence-based approach to the welfare of the animals at both the Zoo and Safari Park. This ensures that current and future generations of visitors have the ability to learn about the amazing animals at our facilities while watching them engage in a remarkable array of species-appropriate behaviors. This is what is going to decrease predictability in their environment and ultimately increase the likelihood of experiencing positive emotions.



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