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Fort Wayne Children's Zoo works to keep orangutans heart healthy

Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 10:52 am

Healthy hearts for orangutans

May 9, 2013

Keeping animals healthy is a zookeeper's No. 1 goal. But because some health problems remain unseen until it's too late, zookeepers at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo turn to diagnostic tools for help.

Heart problems are a leading cause of death for both zoo-managed and wild orangutans, so zoos have banded together to develop the Great Ape Heart Project, based at Zoo Atlanta.

The project collects data on orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas that will advance understanding of ape heart conditions.

"This effort will help us understand what healthy ape hearts look like," said Fort Wayne zoo veterinarian Dr. Joe Smith, serves as the veterinary adviser for the Orangutan Species Survival Plan and is a member of the Great Ape Heart Project Steering Committee.

Read more about orangutans at

To read more about what Tengku likes to do with the ultrasound gel used during his echocardiogram and see a video at

Vote for your favorite animal during Zoo Week at Kroger and Scott's

Bugara the tiger, Fishbone the sea lion, and Jelani the giraffe want your vote during Kroger and Scott's Zoo Week! Choose your favorite animal at the checkout and, your $1 donation goes directly to your non-profit Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.

Shop at your local Kroger or Scott's store on Zoo Day, May 15, to get great deals and help the zoo at the same time! Then, on May 18, use your receipt from May 15 to get free child admission to the zoo with a paying adult.

Now in its 21st year, Kroger & Scott's Zoo Day has generated more than $1.4 million for the zoo. Our thanks to Kroger and Scott's for their outstanding support.

Celebrate orangutan M.O.M.s on Mother's Day, May 12

Join members of the American Association of Zoo Keepers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday to learn about orangutans, the threats they face in the wild and how you can help.

As their rain forest home is literally wiped out, more baby orangutans are losing their mothers due to the growing demand for palm oil. These babies, who would normally remain with their mothers for up to eight years, become orphaned and are unable to survive.

The Missing Orangutan Mothers (M.O.M.s) campaign helps generate awareness about these issues.

Learn more about orangutans, palm oil, and how you can help at

Cheryl Piropato is education and communications director for the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.