Baby giraffe wears custom-made shoes to fix his back legs

Picture: Woodland Park Zoo

A baby giraffe at a zoo in the US has been fitted with specially made shoes to help fix problems with his back legs.

Mother giraffe Olivia gave birth to her baby boy giraffe Hasani, which means ‘handsome’ in the African language Swahili, on May 2.

Vets at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, in the US state of Washington, noticed straight away that Hasani’s feet were not lined up as they expected.

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They X-rayed his legs and when he was only one day old they put casts on them — like people would have on a broken arm or leg — to help keep them stable.

The zoo health team asked other zoo health teams and experts for advice and carefully checked in medical journals and books about what anyone had done around the world in the past to help a baby animal with similar leg problems at birth.

Woodland Park Zoo vet Tim Storms said Hasani’s condition is quite common in horses.

“The condition is known as hyperextended fetlocks. It is well documented in horses and has been reported to occur in giraffes,” Dr Storms said in an interview on the zoo’s blog.

The team that makes the exhibits at the zoo then made a pair of two-piece shoes out of plywood and high-density polyethylene (HDPE). HDPE is a recyclable plastic commonly used to make bottles.

They carved grooves in the plywood to help give him grip when he walks and runs.

Hasani’s treatment program is expected to last several months.

Hasani was about 70kg at birth and has already put on several kilograms. He and mum Olivia are in a barn away from visitors while they get to know one another.

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