The Application of Bio-Mimicry Studies of the Cardiovascular Systems of Giraffes and Arboreal Snakes in the Development of a Modified Biventricular Assist Device (MBVAD)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2010

Anthony Yam1; Usaamah Khan2; Estardo Rodas3; Todd Losey3, BS; Horace E. Walcott3, DVM, MSPH, MS

1St. John’s University, New York, NY, USA; 2Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA; 3Brooklyn Tech, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Read the Spanish translation: La Aplicación de Estudios Bio-Miméticos de los Sistemas Cardiovasculares de Jirafas y Serpientes Arborícolas en el Desarrollo de un Dispositivo de Asistencia Biventricular Modificado (MBVAD)


Wind turbines are alternative sources of energy but are contributing to increased mortalities of flying animals. Solar panels, fuel cells, and wind turbines located on kites may reduce these mortalities.1,6 Hydrogen and oxygen from the kite’s fuel cell are converted to water and electricity in the fuel cell reactor located on the ground.2,11 However, pressure differentials of fluids due to changes in height represent major engineering hurdles that must be resolved before these kites can be located above the flight paths of birds and bats. To resolve these hurdles, a modified biventricular assist device (MBVAD) that mimics the biomechanics of the hearts of giraffes and arboreal snakes was developed.3-5,9 The MBVAD utilizes micro-solenoid valves that mimic the function of the biological valves. Systolic and diastolic pressure in the water filled ventricles is induced by pneumatic expansion and contraction of rubber spheres.3,10 This permits rubber tubes to transfer water from ground levels to the fuel cell of the kite, as well as conduct hydrogen and oxygen from a fuel cell on the kite to a fuel cell reactor on the ground. Therefore, the ecological drawbacks of wind turbines may be countered by the use of biological models to resolve engineering hurdles. Consequently, our experimental kite represents the product of One Science. It is an alternative energy production unit that was developed by integrating concepts from veterinary science, ecology, chemistry, biophysics, and engineering.7,8


This project has been funded by the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Research Foundation. We are grateful for technical assistance from Dr. Ray Burns of the Louisville Zoo, Kentucky and Dr. Mark Stetter of Disney’s Wild Animal Kingdom, Florida.

Literature Cited

1.  Arnett, E.B., W.K. Brown, W.P. Erickson, J.K. Fiedler, B.L. Hamilton, T.H. Henry, A. Jain, G.D. Johnson, J. Kerns, R.R. Koford, C.P. Nicholson, T.J. O’Connell, M.D. Piorkowski, and R.D. Tankersley. 2008. Patterns of bat fatalities at wind energy facilities in North America. J Wildl Manage. 72:61–78.

2.  Christoffel, I. 1977. Maneuverable, Inflatable Kite. U.S. Patent 4026504.

3.  DeBakey, M.E. 1999. A miniature implantable axial flow ventricular assist device. Ann Thorac Surg. 68:637–640.

4.  Frazier, O.H., T.J. Myers, R.K. Jarvik, S. Westaby, D.W. Pigott, I.D. Gregoric, T. Khan, D.W. Tamez, J.L. Conger, and M.P. Macris. 2001. Research and development of an implantable, axial-flow left ventricular assist device: the Jarvik 2000 Heart. Ann Thorac Surg. 71:S125–S132.

5.  Goetz, R.H., Warren, J.V., O.H Gauer, J.L. Patterson, J.T. Doyle, E.N. Keen, and M. McGregor. 1960. Circulation of the giraffe. Circ Res. 8:1049–1058.

6.  Kunz, T.H., E.B. Arnett, W.P. Erickson, A.R. Hoar, G.D. Johnson, R.P. Larkin, M.D. Strickland, R.W. Thresher, and M.D. Tuttle. 2007. Ecological impacts of wind energy development on bats: questions, research needs, and hypotheses. Front Ecol Environ. 5:315–324.

7.  Lange, C.J., K. Sakeeb, Z. Anika, E. Rodas, T. Losey, D. Grey, K. Chen, F.A. Issa, A. Zhang, M. Abdeldayem, K.C. Chan, and H.E. Walcott. 2009. Solar hydrogen electric bio-mimetic energetics—a new and emerging sub-discipline of zoological medicine. In: Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the AAZV. Tulsa, OK.

8.  Lange, C.J., D. Grey, K. Chen, and H.E. Walcott. 2008. The Development and Testing of a Drone Solar Hydrogen Electric Water Sampling Boat. USPC Class: 73864.

9.  Lillywhite, H.B. 1987. Circulatory Adaptations of Snake to Gravity. Amer Zool. 27:81–95.

10.  Mitchell, G., S.K. Maloney, D. Mitchell, and D.J. Keegan. 2006. The origin of mean arterial and jugular venous blood pressures in giraffes. J Exp Biol. 209:2515–2524.

11.  Pedley, T.J., B.S. Brook, and R.S. Seymour. 1996. Blood pressure and flow rate in the giraffe jugular vein. Philosoph Trans: Biolog Sci. 351:855–866.


Speaker Information
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Horace E. Walcott, DVM, MSPH, MS
Brooklyn Tech
Brooklyn, NY, USA

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