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Hasani the giraffe receives a name and some new custom-made therapeutic shoes

Posted by Gigi Allianic, Communications
Photos by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo

Our baby giraffe now has a name! The little giraffe will be called Hasani, which means handsome in Swahili and was also the name of the baby giraffe’s paternal grandfather. The name was chosen by zoo staff—a fitting name for our beautiful calf who has already stolen hearts across the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Hello Hasani! The little calf stands tall next to mom, Olivia in the morning light of the giraffe barn. His custom-made shoes help support his legs and guide alignment.
Hasani was born on May 2 to mom Olivia. Immediately after his birth, the zoo’s animal health team noticed each rear foot was not in normal alignment. The condition, known as hyperextended fetlocks, is well documented in horses and has been reported to occur in giraffes. One day after the giraffe was born, the zoo’s animal health team applied casts on both rear legs to help stabilize his limbs.

A week ago, Woodland Park Zoo’s exhibits team constructed therapeutic shoes on a trial basis for the baby giraffe. Meanwhile, the zoo’s veterinary team consulted with a Kentucky-based equine veterinarian who specializes in foot conditions. He visited the zoo to evaluate the calf, and crafted new custom shoes based on the zoo’s specifications. He modified a design that he has used to successfully treat numerous foals with the same condition. The shoes will do the heavy lifting in the next phase of treatment of the baby’s rear leg abnormalities. Huge thanks to Dr. Scott Morrison and Manuel Cruz of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital for their support and expertise with this shoe design.

Dr. Tim Storms adjusts Hasani's new shoes.
The new shoes are made of more durable metal with a textured bottom for extra grip, with an acrylic foundation and molding on top that wraps around and secures the shoe to the hooves. “This whole-toe wrap binds the toes more snugly to stabilize the shoe and provide a stronger grip to the hoof,” says Dr. Tim Storms, associate veterinarian at Woodland Park Zoo. The shoes are more water-resistant than the previously made wooden shoes. “This will be better for walking outdoors on wet ground and will allow him to exercise more, which is critical to his development.”

The leg bandages were also removed as part of the next phase of treatment. “Though they provided important support initially, removing the bandages is an essential next step to allow the flexor tendons to strengthen unimpeded. While the bandaging is gone, the kinesiology tape remains in place for now to help stimulate and support his leg muscles,” adds Storms. 

Kinesiology tape may be familiar to many people who tape their muscles during sports activities, in this instance, the tape will help stimulate and support the leg muscles on our giraffe calf.
“Last week our exhibits team made a heroic effort by custom-making shoes with short notice to help our little giraffe. And now, a colleague from across the country has donated his time and materials to make these specialized shoes. We feel so grateful for all the help we’ve received and the overwhelming outpouring of best wishes from our community,” says Storms.

Treatment may well span over the next few months. “While we are happy with Hasani’s response so far and these new shoes, he’s not out of the woods yet. His condition is still guarded and we’re keeping him under close observation. 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,” adds Storms.

Mom Olivia and little Hasani will remain off view in the giraffe barn for an indefinite period and to allow continued maternal bonding and nursing in the cozy, private setting. 

Dr. Tim Storms preps the calf's new custom-made shoes. The animal health team is hopeful that this treatment will strengthen Hasani's ability to walk and grow.
The next step is to get Hasani outdoors for exercise, explains Martin Ramirez, mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo. “Baby giraffes are typically outdoors by the time they’re a week old,” explains Ramirez, “so we hope to begin giving him access to the outdoor corral sometime this week so he can get exercise. These outdoor sessions will be very brief at first for controlled periods of time. We will not be able to predict what time of day or how long he and mom are outdoors during these initial periods.” While his ventures outdoors may be brief, you can be sure we'll keep you up to date on Hasani's progress right here, or visiting or following the zoo’s FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Other than the abnormalities in his rear legs, Hasani remains in good health and is nursing and bonding with mom. He weighed 155 pounds at birth and now weighs 180 pounds, so he is growing and growing!

Hasani pictured here at 5 days old with his casts and custom-made therapeutic shoes.
Giraffes are widespread across southern and eastern Africa, with smaller isolated populations in west and central Africa. New population surveys estimate an overall 40 percent decline in the giraffe population; fewer than 100,000 exist today. Of the currently recognized subspecies of giraffe, five have decreasing populations, while three are increasing and one is stable. 

Giraffe enthusiasts can stick their necks out for giraffes and help support conservation efforts by visiting Woodland Park Zoo and supporting the Wildlife Survival Program, which includes the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. The Foundation seeks to provide the first long-term ecological monitoring effort of the Angolan giraffe—an important desert-dwelling giraffe subspecies in north-western Namibia. Visit to learn more about the zoo’s conservation partnerships taking place in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.
The giraffe baby at 5 days old with mom, Olivia.
You can also show your love for Hasani by commenting on any of our social posts on the zoo’s FacebookInstagram and Twitter. We'll be sure to share your heartfelt comments with the dedicated team of animal keepers and animal care experts who have worked around the clock to give Hasani the best chance to thrive.

This very thoughtful token of love came from a little girl with a very big heart.
We are overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support for our team and our little giraffe. Your thoughtful notes, comments and messages of well wishes is truly appreciated. We've received so many beautiful messages—one example is this very sweet gift of exactly two band aids from a very young zoo visitor named Mia (with a very big heart) who wanted to make sure the giraffe baby received them. We can assure you, these bandages are hanging up in the giraffe barn for extra good luck.


SilverMom said…
Unknown said…
Love this story, wish him well, and will be following his progress.
Kate S. said…
Baby Hasani was so lucky to be born with such a caring Woodland Park Zoo and beyond team surrounding him. Thanks to all of you he gets to stand, walk, and run!
zenseas said…
Thank you all for your beautiful work. I keep hoping for him! I know his in the best hands. ❤️
Farfetch said…
This is upcoming outfit for Giraffe and it will be new trend. Haaaaa
Anonymous said…
Please double check the name for this baby giraffe with folks who understand and know the Swahili language. Hasani is not 'handsome' in Swahili. Google has it wrong.