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Funding demonstrates historic show of support for great ape veterinary care

ATLANTA – August 23, 2010 –  Zoo Atlanta has received a prestigious grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to lead a multi-institutional effort to examine heart disease in great apes. The $92,000 grant represents an historic show of support for an area of ape health care that has until now been poorly understood by veterinarians.

Identified as a leading cause of death in great apes living in zoological settings, cardiovascular disease (CVD) requires advanced understanding of diagnosing, treating and monitoring affected individuals, as well as adapting techniques already in use for treatment of heart disease in humans and domestic animals. Under the leadership of Hayley Murphy, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services, the Zoo Atlanta Veterinary Team will use the one-year grant to design an innovative national program for investigating ape CVD and establishing state-of-the-art diagnostics, treatment and prevention. Partnership institutions include The University of Georgia, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and more than 15 additional zoos and universities.

“We are pleased and proud that IMLS saw the merit in a project that will have a positive impact on great apes in zoological collections throughout the world,” said Raymond King, President and CEO. “This is an important step forward that will allow experts from around the country to share knowledge and build on their individual strengths.”


Zoo Atlanta is a likely candidate for leadership in a great ape heart health initiative. The organization houses the nation’s largest collection of western lowland gorillas, with 23 individuals, as well as the largest zoological collection of orangutans in the U.S., currently with 11 individuals. Four of the Zoo’s great apes are over the age of 45.


“National Leadership Collaborative Planning Grants provide opportunities to conduct research and develop the framework to support future projects that have the potential to generate new tools, research, models, services, practices, or alliances that will positively impact museums, libraries, and the communities they serve. These projects encourage partnerships that address national issues of importance impacting education, scholarship, and public service and encourage the broad application of standards and models to improve professional practice,” said IMLS Acting Director Marsha L. Semmel.


The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, visit


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