Dylan – a 25-year-old chimpanzee – was assessed by leading cardio specialists Rob Shave and Eric Stohr from Cardiff Metropolitan University along with vets from the zoo, with the primate proving to have a very healthy heart for his age.
The team are part of a UK-wide group co-ordinating the project to find out what exactly is normal, healthy heart activity in a great apes and how best to best care for them in order to enable them to lead long heart-healthy lives.
Heart monitoring has already been taking place in US zoos for a decade, with evidence suggesting that – as with humans – cardiovascular disease is a problem in chimps.
However, early assessments on three/four of the primates at Chester Zoo have produced positive results – with all displaying healthy hearts for their ages.
Steve Unwin, our Zoo Vet said:
“The hearts of the chimps here at Chester Zoo would seem to be very good and we’d perhaps attribute that to things like the in-depth nutritional analysis we’ve done on their diets, the design of the exhibit and all the behavioural studies that have been carried out on the group.
“But it’s very early days and what we need to do is assess more chimpanzees here and lots more elsewhere. Much, much more data will need to be amassed and we’ll be looking at chimps in zoos all over the UK, Europe, as well as in the wild in Africa.
“What the project is doing is looking at how we can prevent health issues from taking hold, before they take hold.
“So, just as those working in the NHS do, we’re looking at prevention before cure – only our concern is with chimpanzees, not humans.
“The early signs would suggest the way we work with and look after the chimps at Chester Zoo, could be a model for zoos all over the world to follow.”