Twycross Zoo - Follow Your Heart

Opening Times: 10am - 5pm

Ape Heart Project

What is the Ape Heart Project?

Twycross Zoo is leading research into cardiovascular (heart) disease in great apes.

Heart disease is often reported as a significant cause of death among captive great apes (chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans). However, our understanding about the condition and consequently our abilities to treat and prevent it are limited. In particular, very little work has been done looking at the European population of apes.

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

This project is part of an EAZA Great Ape TAG endorsed initiative striving to develop a collaborative and co-operative approach to the investigation of cardiovascular disease among the European captive great ape population.


How you can help

If you work for a zoo or are a vet/cardiologist and would like more information on how you can get involved, please click on the links below.

If you are a member of the public and think you might be able to help us in some way please get in touch. There are two main ways you can help support our efforts.

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 a great ape dies in your collection – Download here
  • Cardiac ultrasound protocol – 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
  • Guidance on how to perform a 12 channel ECG – click here
  • Sample submission form – Download here
  • For more information on the echo exam submission process and report generation, click here


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.
  • 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.

Contact us

For further support or any questions, please email us at

You can also follow us on twitter @ape_heart_study


Useful links

Further Information

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