The Woodland Park Zoo’s 5-day-old giraffe is walking in style with new therapeutic shoes to treat abnormalities in his rear legs.
Shortly after the giraffe’s birth last week, he was diagnosed with hyperextended fetlocks, a condition common in horses in which the rear feet aren’t in normal alignment. Zoo staff put casts on his legs the day after he was born to help heal the tendons.
The zoo’s in-house exhibits team made the custom shoes from high-density plastic and plywood, with grooves to improve traction. Treatment is expected to continue over several months.
“At this stage, the new therapeutic shoes are on a trial basis but I’m hopeful that they will help him walk better,” associate veterinarian Tim Storms said in a news release. “We’ll continue refining and improving our approach to find a good balance between supporting his limbs and strengthening his tendons.”
The giraffe is otherwise healthy and has grown from 155 to 170.5 pounds since his birth. He’s still in the private giraffe barn while bonding with Olivia, his 12-year-old mother, and the zoo hasn’t said when he will enter the public exhibit.
The giraffe is the zoo’s first born since 2016. He doesn’t have a name yet, and the zoo plans to hold a contest to determine it.