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Giraffe calf update: 5-day-old baby is outfitted with therapeutic shoes

Posted by Gigi Allianic, communications
Photos by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Woodland Park Zoo’s baby male giraffe has been outfitted with custom-made therapeutic shoes in the next phase of treatment of his rear leg abnormalities.

The baby stands next to mom, Olivia, in the giraffe barn after the team outfitted him with new therapeutic shoes and casts.
The baby was born on May 2 to mom Olivia. Hours after his birth, the zoo’s animal health team radiographed his rear legs after noticing each rear foot was not in normal alignment. “The condition is known as hyperextended fetlocks. It is well documented in horses and has been reported to occur in giraffes,” says Dr. Tim Storms, associate veterinarian at Woodland Park Zoo.

One day after the giraffe was born, the zoo’s animal health team applied casts on both rear legs to help stabilize his limbs. 

After consultations of medical literature and colleagues at other zoos, the zoo’s exhibits team was called in to help. The talented team of exhibit artists specially crafted two-piece shoes made of high density polyethylene and plywood with grooves for better adhesion to the foot and for better traction.

Joe Leporati, part of our amazingly talented exhibits crew, carefully crafts a custom shoe for the little giraffe.
Dr. Tim Storms fits the new therapeutic shoes for the giraffe calf.
The team adjusts the therapeutic shoes and sole onto the giraffe calf's casts.
“At this stage, the new therapeutic shoes are on a trial basis but I’m hopeful that they will help him walk better. We’ll continue refining and improving our approach to find a good balance between supporting his limbs and strengthening his tendons,” says Storms. “We’re so very grateful to our in-house exhibits team for jumping in to help our baby giraffe. We’re very touched by their eagerness to lend their expertise to caring for this new life. It’s been all hands on deck for our baby.”

Treatment will most likely span over several months. “While our baby giraffe is healthy and continues nursing and bonding with mom, he remains in guarded condition and under close observation. As we move forward with his treatment, we’ll continue assessing the best course of action to help him walk and grow normally,” adds Storms.

During the veterinary procedure, the baby weighed in at 170.5 pounds, up from a birth weight of 155 pounds. Mom and her baby remain off view in the barn for an indefinite period and to allow continued maternal bonding and nursing in a cozy, private setting. 

Dr. Tim Storms finishes casting the second rear leg of the giraffe calf.
The little giraffe is otherwise healthy and Olivia continues to successfully nurse him.
The yet-unnamed baby giraffe was born to mom Olivia and dad Dave. It is the first offspring between the 12-year-old mom and 6-year-old dad; Olivia had her first baby in 2013 at Woodland Park Zoo with a different mate.

The last giraffe birth at the zoo was a female, Lulu, born in 2017 to mom Tufani—Olivia’s younger sister—and dad Dave. In addition to the baby, Olivia, Dave and Tufani make up the current herd of giraffes at the zoo.

You can watch for updates on our little dude right here on our blog or by visiting or following the zoo’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Thank you for all your encouragement and well wishes, it means the world to everyone here at the zoo, and we are all grateful for your support and flooded with love for our little giraffe. 


Anonymous said…
So glad you all are giving this little guy the best care. God bless you
Maria D said…
This little guy has a compassionate and caring support team! God bless all of you for helping him to recover! He is a lucky little fellow to feel so much love!
Unknown said…
Well.. now you have to name him Forrest.
Unknown said…
Is his condition similar to the equine condition of being windswept?
Unknown said…
You guys are doing a great job, God bless you .
Yes i was Just coming to suggest that!