High Risk Giraffe Procedure Performed Successfully At Providence Zoo
It took a team of 45 animal care specialists to literally get a Masai giraffe back on his feet at Roger Williams Park Zoo.
The zoo announced that their 12-year-old giraffe, Jaffa, had been suffering from a chronic hoof ailment, common in older giraffes. Standing 18-feet tall and weighing in at 2800 pounds, Jaffa had definitely been asking a lot of his feet over the years.
To help with his pain from the overgrown hooves, veterinary staff from the Columbus Zoo, Omaha Zoo, Zoo New England, and the Tufts University veterinary anesthesia department, along with farrier Steve Foxworth of the Zoo Hoofstock Trim Program and his team, worked with the Zoo veterinary team and keepers on what turned out to be a complicated procedure.
For humans, trimming ones finger and toe nails is pretty simple. For an 18-foot giraffe - not so much.
Just getting Jaffa off his feet to have access to his hooves required a large animal technical rope/lifting expert to be on hand. But ultimately the staff determined that performing a corrective hoof trim under anesthesia, with access to all four of Jaffa’s legs, would be the most appropriate treatment for his condition.
Roger Williams Park Zoo is working with their giraffes on voluntary hoof treatments in the future, but for Jaffa the riskier anesthesia procedure had to be used.
Clearly laying down an 18-foot giraffe is no easy feat. Staff had to pad Jaffa's holding stall with foam mats and bed it with sand to prevent injury during the procedure, or the recovery period. A large padded neck board was used to support his head and neck and several team members were tasked with massaging his legs to prevent cramping while undergoing the procedure.
While under the anesthesia, Jaffa had his hooves trimmed as well as a full physical and dental examination, blood collection, and leg radiographs.
Happily the two-hour procedure went extremely well, Jaffa's hoof overgrowth was corrected and he was given a good overall health evaluation. Hopefully this gives him a better quality of life during his remaining years at Roger Williams Park Zoo.