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Image 4 of The Advocate Messenger April 23, 2012

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A4 MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2012 ENVIRONMENT THE ADVOCATE-MESSENGER WWW.AMNEWS.COM Kentucky helping effort to restore American chestnut Orangutans sit still for heart ultrasound at zoo By DORIE TURNER Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — The 9year-old patient sits still, munching on popcorn and sipping grape juice while he gets an ultrasound of his heart. Every so often, he wiggles free long enough to swing from the ceiling or stick out his tongue before resuming a statue-like pose. Orangutans aren’t known for their patience, but this one, named Satu, has been trained to let researchers at Zoo Atlanta perform echocardiograms on him while he’s awake. It’s part of a groundbreaking national project — the Great Ape Heart Project housed in Atlanta — that researches heart disease in the rust-colored apes. Heart problems are the No. 1 killer of orangutans, gorillas and other apes living in captivity, and the disease threatens the work researchers have done to help increase the population of the endangered species. “We don’t really know what is causing it. Once we can understand that, hopefully we can treat it,” said Hayley Murphy, director of veterinary services at Zoo Atlanta. “Our ultimate goal would be to prevent it in these amazing animals, these endangered species. We’re really trying hard to get a handle on this.” Researchers have been collecting data on gorilla heart disease for a decade, but zoos are just now starting to gather that information on orangutans. In February, Zoo Atlanta was the first facility to perform an awake echocardiogram on an orangutan. Now the zoo, through the Great Ape Heart Project, is encouraging other organizations to do awake procedures, too, and send in the data. Healthy apes can be put under anesthesia but the drugs are dangerous for those already suffering from heart problems. Awake procedures expand the amount of data researchers can collect, Murphy said. “It’s really cool to be able to follow an animal from infancy to adulthood. Nobody’s ever done that,” she said. “So it’s going to give us a lot of clues as to when does heart disease start? What does it look like when it starts? Does it change over time?” What’s more, researchers hope to determine how similar apes and humans are when it comes to cardiac disease. The hearts look the same on an ultrasound, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that disease affects them the same way. Already, the oldest orangutan at Zoo Atlanta, 40year-old Alan, is taking human prescription drugs to help arrest the spread of his heart disease. However, researchers aren’t sure how effective the drugs are because there is so little data on what a healthy orangutan heart looks like. Satu and other orangutans at the zoo were trained for awake ultrasounds and blood draws through positive reinforcement using treats and praises. It took months of training to work up to a heart ultrasound that produced a usable image. Much of the work depends on donations and volunteers, including ultrasound technicians from local hospitals who perform the tests on their own time. The project’s website lists supplies like syringes, microscopes, ultrasound machines and medical scrubs on its donation page. On a recent day, Satu sat for more than half an hour while technicians performed a cardiac ultrasound on him. A laptop sitting nearby showed black and white images of his pumping heart and broadcast the thump, thump, thump of the valves opening and closing. Afterward, zoo workers drew blood from another orangutan, Madu, while she sat quietly waiting for treats. The 28-year-old ape rested her arm in a large plastic tube built specially for blood withdrawals, which once had to be done with the animal under anesthesia, a lengthy procedure. The blood will be used to establish biomarkers that can help chart the progression of heart disease and possible treatments. Training the apes to sit still long enough for any medical procedure can take up to a few months, depending on the animal. Patti Frazier, primate keeper at Zoo Atlanta, said she typically starts by teaching the orangutan to present his chest, then slowly introduces each element of the test. For the ultrasound, those elements included the wand they push against the ape’s chest, the gel used on the instrument and the laptop that records the images. Trainers also must get the apes accustomed to a hospital volunteer who records each image. Frazier said one ape didn’t like the wand and when told to show his chest, covered it with hay before turning toward his trainer. Another animal, an older orangutan, has a large throat sack that must be moved to the side so the keeper can place the wand directly on his chest. At best, an animal will hold still for 30 seconds, but most are calm for just a few seconds, long enough to get a usable image, before they wiggle free, Frazier said. As zoos across the country begin to do awake ultrasounds, the information will be sent to Atlanta to be included in the Great Ape Heart Project’s database, a single place researchers can go to find out more about ape cardiac health. “The idea that everybody is pulling together resources and data and efforts to answer some of the questions on a much larger scale is really exciting,” said Kristen Lukas, curator of conservation and science at Cleveland Park Metro Zoo in Ohio. “It’s a significant issue.” Celebrate a late Earth Day with some outdoors time Yesterday was Earth Day and in case you missed it, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate today instead. I suggest going outside for a few minutes or a few hours — however much time you want to spend — and find a spot to just relax and enjoy nature. Sometimes it’s good to take a breath remember what it is about the earth and its ecology that makes it so worth protecting. In fact, I suggest doing this even if you did celebrate Earth Day; you can never get too much outdoors time. Two Saturdays ago I got some excellent outdoors time when I took my husband with me to a wildflower walk at the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge in Boyle County. We had been to the refuge before to do some birding in the blind, but this was our first nonbird-related expedition. Amanda’s Animal Fact of the Week Amanda Wheeler Eco-columnist 2 0 1 2 Let The World Know...Congratulate Your FAVORITE GRADUATE From Any Level of Education! Our special GRADUATE PAGES will be published on Sunday, May 13th, 2012 in The Advocate-Messenger. All entries should have their “Senior Picture” and a baby picture. We will accept Pre-school Grads, Kindergarten Grads, Grade School Grads, Middle School Grads, High School Grads, College Grads, etc. Making things even trickier, just disposing of the plant body won’t get rid of the plant — it has to be removed, roots and all, or it can grow back. We spent the end of our walk pulling up a bunch of garlic mustard plants that had grown up on a hillside in the refuge. Ever since the walk, we’ve been spotting garlic mustard and identifying wildflowers wherever we go. It’s amazing how just a little bit of knowledge can make nature that much more enjoyable. If you’re interested in going on a wildflower walk, one is scheduled for 10 a.m. this Saturday at the refuge. More info is available on the refuge’s website at www.ckwr.org. Congratulations Beth Jackson Daughter of Gary & Judy Jackson Eastern Kentucky University Class of 2012 To have your favorite graduate in this promotion: 1. Find a baby picture and a recent photo for us to copy. 2. Fill out the form below and print plainly the needed information. 3. Enclose a stamped,self-addressed envelope for the return of your Danville, KY) after the publication of the pages. Photos will be held for ten days only. GRADUATES OF 2012 The porcupine’s Latin name, erethizon dorsatum, means "quill pig.” wild hyacinth, may apples and many more. While I usually am all We saw so many flowers about animals, I also enand plants there’s no way I joyed this plant-focused was going to remember event. them all, but that’s OK beIt was great to spend cause it means I’ll just have some time outside with a to go on another walk bunch of nice people, sometime. learning about the natural At the end of our walk, stuff that’s all around us but we learned about one more sometimes goes unnoticed. plant — garlic mustard. UnOur guides taught us all like most of the rest of the about many different plants we had seen during plants, a lot of which I had our walk, garlic mustard is no clue about. Before the an invasive species (it is not walk, my plant knowledge native to the area) that is ended after your basic very good at reproducing in household plants and veg- large numbers and choking gies. out other flowers. We learned about violets, Beside its innocent-lookwhich don’t always come in ing little white blooms are a violet color but can be seed pods filled with hunwhite or even yellow. We dreds of seeds ready to cresaw flox and learned about ate more and more of the its flat petals. We spotted unwanted weed. hope was to get a tree resistant to the blight and keep breeding it until they got one that was almost pure. In Laurel County 90 trees were planted. Thirty are chestnut, 30 are red oaks and 30 are white pines as “trainer trees help them grow straight and tall,” Johnson said. Pollen will be collected from the trees for 10 years as they grow. Johnson said chestnut wood can be used for everything from building cradles to coffins. “You could build it for houses, for furniture,” Johnson said. “You would think it’s too heavy but it’s fairly lightweight. But it’s so, so hard. It’s really a durable wood.” The Advocate-Messenger P.O. Box 149 • Danville, KY 40423-0149 Entries must be received by 10:00 AM on Monday, May 7th. No late entries will appear on the special pages. Order Form - Graduates of 2012 Graduate Name Son of Daughter of Parent(s) School Your Name Address Phone Cardholder’s Signature (if paying by credit card): Card# Expires 145446 AP Photo/Dorie Turner An orangutan eats at Zoo Atlanta, in Atlanta. A groundbreaking national project housed at Zoo Atlanta is researching heart disease in orangutans through the world’s first awake ultrasounds on the rust-colored apes. CORBIN, Ky. (AP) — Two farms in southeastern Kentucky are taking part in a project aimed at restoring the American chestnut tree to national forests and other public lands. The farms of Bob and Donna Cornelius in Laurel County and on Lester Shelly’s Whitley County are growing seeds to seedlings, protected by plastic shields to keep animals from chewing on the tiny leaves. U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservation Planning Technician Jamie Johnson said there are very few original American chestnuts left after an Asian fungus nearly wiped out the tree. Johnson told The TimesTribune that under the $1.1 million project, about 360 acres of American chestnuts will be planted in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky in the next three years. Blight began moving through the Appalachians in about 1906 and, by 1955, about 4 billion native American chestnut trees had been destroyed by the Asian trees that were brought to North America. About 26 years ago, geneticists cross-bred the Asian chestnut, which is resistant to the blight, with the American chestnut. The

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