Watch Hasani take his first steps here:
Video credit: WoodlandParkZoo
While there is a case to be made for letting animals live in their natural, and wild, habitats without human interference, sometimes human intervention is actually quite beneficial. That was the case at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo where a baby giraffe with a hoof deformity is finally able to take his first steps thanks to some custom shoes.
Hasani the giraffe was born on May 2, 2019. However, zookeepers noticed that all was not right, particularly with the little guy’s hooves, noted the zoo’s blog.
Katie Ahl, one of the lead keepers in the zoo, said, “The baby giraffe was on his feet and walking within an hour after he was born, which is what we want to see. However, we noticed right away that each rear foot was not in normal alignment.”
It turns out Hasani, which means “handsome” in Swahili, had hyper-extended fetlocks which normally affects horses. The condition results in a misalignment of his rear hooves that prevent him from walking upright.
Zookeepers started thinking of ways to help the little guy. A day after he was born, the Woodland Park Zoo’s animal health team made special casts. This was followed by temporary wooden shoes but they were not built to last.
The team decided to enlist the help of an equine veterinarian in Kentucky for a more permanent solution.
The veterinarian even flew over to assess Hasani personally and the baby giraffe was quite patient as the team tried to craft special shoes so that he could walk.
The custom shoes are made of metal for durability. The soles are also textured for a better grip on the ground. The shoe was wrapped with a special molding.
Dr. Tim Storms, associate veterinarian, said in an official statement: “This whole-toe wrap binds the toes more snugly to stabilize the shoe and provide a stronger grip to the hoof.”
In addition, the special shoes are also waterproof.
“This will be better for walking outdoors on wet ground and will allow him to exercise more, which is critical to his development,” Storms said.
The shoes have done wonders for little Hasani as he can now spend a lot of time with his mother, Olivia, in a segregated section away from public view. The increased privacy will allow him the time and comfort to get used to his new footwear.
“We feel so grateful for all the help we’ve received and the overwhelming outpouring of best wishes from our community,” Storms said.
Hasani now has a bright future ahead of him and it can only get brighter under the careful watch of the dedicated zookeepers.
“We’ll continue assessing the best course of action to help him walk and grow normally, and to find a good balance between supporting his limbs and strengthening his tendons,” Storms said.
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