The Great Ape Heart Project (GAHP) collects, reviews and archives cardiac ultrasound exams (echocardiograms) in an international database for gorillas, bonobos, orangutans and chimpanzees. We accept cardiac exams done on anesthetized and non-anesthetized apes so long as both a submission form and a copy of the echocardiogram are submitted. Please include still images that show all measurements performed, as well as at least one video image of each standard view obtained. Images should be submitted in DICOM format which allows review and confirmation of measurements.While we are currently continuing to accept exam submissions with alpha-2 agonists, our cardiac advisory team may not be able to provide an official report in these cases. Please review our Anesthesia page for more information on why we do not recommend using alpha-2 agonists for cardiac examinations. Exams are reviewed by our cardiac advisors and feedback is returned to submitting institutions within 6 weeks. Urgent clinical cases can be expedited for review upon request.
For more information about performing exams, please see our Performing Echocardiograms page.
The GAHP database also includes postmortem findings. Please submit full necropsy reports to email@example.com once they become available. In the event that an ape has died, please refer to the following cardiac necropsy protocols. These protocols are also available on the Members Only section of AAZV.org and are also available through each SSP. For the general great ape necropsy protocol, please refer to the Members Only section of AAZV.org.
- GAHP Recommended Cardiac Necropsy Guide (pdf)
- GAHP Recommended Cardiac Sectioning Protocol for Pathologists (pdf)
Please visit our Performing and Submitting Postmortem Evaluations page for more information.
Frequently asked questions about submitting cardiac exam information:
Who should submit cardiac exams to the GAHP?
You do not need to be a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to submit an exam to the GAHP. Our mission is to help assess and treat heart disease in any great apes and to further our understanding of CVD by creating a global database of great ape cardiac exams. All zoos, sanctuaries, or other facilities housing great apes are encouraged to submit cardiac exams. A note to European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) members: we collaborate with the European Ape Heart Project based at the Twycross Zoo and will share European submissions with the Ape Heart Project.
The ONLY way to submit exams to the GAHP is by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or sending exam materials to:
Great Ape Heart Project
800 Cherokee Ave. SE
Atlanta, GA, 30315
***If you share exams with an individual that is associated with the GAHP, this does guarantee that your exam will be received by the GAHP Cardiac Advisors or be included in the GAHP database. Submissions must be given to the Project Manager directly. If a visiting sonographer or cardiologist performs an exam at your zoo, also please follow up with them to ensure that all materials get submitted to the GAHP. If you are uncertain that your exam was submitted by your institution, please contact the Project Manager at email@example.com, and we can look up your submission.
Our apes do not have heart disease. Should I submit our exams to the GAHP?
Yes, submitting healthy “normal” cases to the GAHP database will help us better understand cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the ape species. Normal cardiac reference ranges have been published or submitted for publication for gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos to date, but not yet for orangutans. We are particularly eager to gain more orangutan cardiac exam submissions, especially ones where alpha-2 anesthetics have not been used, in order to establish cardiac reference ranges for orangutans.
How often should I submit exams to the GAHP?
The GAHP accepts any examination done on anesthetized great apes any time they are performed. We also accept older exam cases that have not previously been submitted to the GAHP database.
We will accept complete echocardiograms done on non-anesthetized apes for review no sooner than every 6 months. In order to obtain as complete as possible “awake” exam, you will likely need to combine several training sessions to obtain all the measurements needed. We recommend that measurements used for an exam submission from a non-anesthetized great ape be obtained within a 30-day period of time.
If you have never submitted an echocardiogram from a non-anesthetized ape to the GAHP and would like feedback from the GAHP ultrasound advisors, you can send us sample clips for evaluation. Our GAHP ultrasound advisors may be able to give you feedback on the quality of the clips so that you can work on obtaining the best possible diagnostic-quality images.
Why does it take up to 6 weeks to receive a report from the GAHP?
The GAHP is made up of volunteer veterinarians, sonographers and cardiac advisors (among others). We receive approximately 100 exam submissions per year. Each exam is first reviewed for completeness by the GAHP manager, then reviewed by a sonographer, cardiac advisor and veterinary advisor before a report is returned. In some cases, we may need more information from the submitting institution, have urgent expedited cases for review, or scheduling limitations. We factor these scenarios into our 6-week estimate, though many cases are reviewed within a few weeks.