Karen being held by wildlife care specialist.

Helping Karen's heart

Karen as a newborn.

A rough start in life

Karen, a baby Sumatran orangutan at the San Diego Zoo, was born but wasn't as active as baby apes usually are. Her keepers saw that she was acting differently, so they had Zoo veterinarians examine Karen.

Karen being held by a wildlife care specialist while getting a check-up.

To the hospital

It turns out that Karen was born with a defect to her heart, and it was the same type of problem that human babies can have. So Karen went to the Zoo hospital, and doctors—including a surgeon for humans—performed open-heart surgery to fix her problem. Karen was very brave!

Karen with her baby.

A happy homecoming

Once Karen was strong enough, she was able to rejoin her family and she was good as new. Her story was so special, there was even a book written about it, called Karen's Heart: The True Story of a Brave Baby Orangutan, from our "Hope & Inspiration" series, which can be purchased here. Karen is now 25 years old and still living at the Zoo!