Heart checkups for chimps at Chattanooga Zoo - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Heart checkups for chimps at Chattanooga Zoo

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

It was time for a checkup for some animals at the Chattanooga Zoo on Thursday. The procedures are for health maintenance, heart-health research, and for the zoo to keep in good standing with federal officials.

A  team of doctors joined the zoo staff to take care of some serious medical concerns that affect both humans and chimpanzees.

"It's really a process. It looks like the ER of a major hospital in there right now," said Darde Long, Chattanooga Zoo Director.

For the past five years doctors have visited the Chattanooga Zoo to check on the chimpanzees and their health. On this trip, Scottie and Shirley had an EKG exam and blood work.
    
But first, they had to be sedated.

"They're like a two year old that doesn't want to go to the doctor and really doesn't want to get a shot so it's a big deal," Long said.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both chimpanzees and humans.
      
Doctors don't expect to find anything wrong with these two, but if they did, they would have similar treatments as an adult.

Shirley is the oldest chimpanzee at the zoo at 30 years old. But we're told that pretty young in chimp years.

"Other chimpanzee's at the zoo previously including Hank, who probably everyone in Chattanooga knows was the sponsor mascot animal, he had pretty significant problems but was a much older chimpanzee," said Dr. William Warren, Chattanooga Heart Institute.

The zoo's accreditation came under fire about five years ago, after several animals died unexpectedly, including Hank the chimpanzee.
    
The zoo kept its accreditation and says while this project isn't mandated, it helps them provide the best care for their animals.

"Providing top-notch care is very important and we want to make sure that we do everything that all of the "big zoos" do if you will," Long said, "If there's ever a doubt, we send them up to our friends at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, so we ship animals up there from time to time."

The results of the exams should be available to the zoo within 24 hours.

The whole procedure takes about 20-30 minutes and we're told there's no serious side-effects from the sedation.

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