Twycross Zoo - Follow Your Heart

Opening Times: 10am - 6pm

Ape Heart Project

What is the Ape Heart Project?

Twycross Zoo is leading research into heart diseases in great apes.

Heart diseases are often reported as a significant cause of death among great apes (chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans), similar to us, humans. However, our understanding about these conditions and consequently our abilities to treat and prevent them are limited.

Twycross Zoo and its partners, including the University of Nottingham and the University of Birmingham are leading the way in an exciting project. An international team of veterinarians, cardiologists and researchers are working hard to better understand great ape heart diseases. This work will help us to provide even better care not only for our animals but all great apes across Europe and beyond.

This project is part of a European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) Great Ape Taxon Advisory Group endorsed initiative striving to develop a collaborative and co-operative approach to the investigation of heart diseases among the European great ape population.

How you can help

Zoo professionals

If you work for a zoo or are a vet/cardiologist we would like you to be involved! You can help by providing samples, data, or carrying out clinical evaluations. All zoos holding great apes are encouraged to participate and the project provide free and professional support for this. For more information on how you can get involved, please click on the links below.

Member of the public or health professional

If you are a member of the public or health professional and think you might be able to help us in some way, please get in touch.

Donation of equipment or supplies (this list is by no means exhaustive);

  • Echocardiography equipment (machines, probes)
  • ECG equipment (electrodes, leads, paper)
  • Blood pressure monitors
  • Stethoscopes

Forms and protocols

What to do if you anaesthetise a great ape:

What to do if a great ape dies in your zoo:

  • Guidance document; what to do in the event of a great ape death – Download here
  • Cardiovascular post-mortem examination and sampling protocol –Download here
  • Useful information for sending samples to the ape heart project/cardiac biobank – Download here
  • Sample submission form – Download here

For more information on the echo exam submission process and report generation, please contact Great Ape Heart Project, Zoo Atlanta.

Sending samples to us

  • CITES permits are required by some countries for the movement of samples taken from CITES listed specimens between EU member states – please check with your local authorities.
  • Twycross Zoo is a CITES Registered Scientific Institution, which makes the shipment of samples easier in some cases. Please contact us for further information.
  • Please contact us first via email so that we can advise you on collection, handling and shipping and where to send samples to.
  • Please send all samples with an accompanying sample submission form (for a copy of this click here)
  • Biological samples need to be frozen at -20˚C as soon as possible – please contact us to arrange shipping.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need a CITES permit to send samples to the Ape Heart Project?

CITES permits are required by some countries for the movement of samples. Twycross zoo is a CITES Registered Scientific Institution, which makes the shipment of samples easier in some cases. Please refer to our “send samples to us” section and our useful information document (Download here) for sending samples to us. Please contact us for further information.

What forms do I need to send with a sample?

Please complete the sample submission form (Download here). If you are sending samples from a deceased animal, please also include post-mortem reports. Please contact us for further information.

Contact Us

For further support or any questions, please email us at

You can also follow us on twitter @ape_heart_study

Useful links

Ape Heart Project StaffPublications

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