At Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, one baby giraffe is taking his first steps in style.
When Hasani the giraffe was born on May 2, 2019, zookeepers were quick to notice that something wasn’t quite right with the little guy’s hooves, according to the Woodland Park Zoo blog.
“The baby giraffe was on his feet and walking within an hour after he was born, which is what we want to see” Katie Ahl, a lead keeper at the zoo, said. “However, we noticed right away that each rear foot was not in normal alignment.”
He had hyperextended fetlocks, a condition that commonly afflicts horses.
The condition, which affects the alignment of his rear hooves, prevented him from walking upright. Zookeepers began working to craft a solution for Hasani, whose name means “handsome” in Swahili.
Just one day after Hasani entered the world, the animal health team at Woodland Park Zoo fitted him with special casts, the zoo reported in a blog post. Soon after, temporary wooden shoes were constructed — but they wouldn’t last long.
The team turned to an equine veterinarian in Kentucky for expertise on hoof conditions to discuss a more permanent solution.
The veterinarian visited Hasani at the zoo to assess the situation and immediately got to work. Hasani was patient as the team invented special shoes to help him walk.
The shoes are crafted with metal for durability and their soles are textured to help Hasani’s hooves grip the ground. A special molding was used as a wrap around the shoe.
“This whole-toe wrap binds the toes more snugly to stabilize the shoe and provide a stronger grip to the hoof,” Dr. Tim Storms, associate veterinarian, said in an official statement from Woodland Park Zoo.
The shoes are also waterproof, making them ideal for a growing giraffe’s lifestyle.
“This will be better for walking outdoors on wet ground and will allow him to exercise more, which is critical to his development,” Storms said.
So far, the shoes seem to be a miracle for little Hasani. The baby giraffe is spending a lot of quality time with his mother, Olivia, in a barn out of public view. The private environment will allow him comfort and time as he grows used to his new footwear.
“We feel so grateful for all the help we’ve received and the overwhelming outpouring of best wishes from our community,” Storms said.
Although zookeepers are keeping a careful watch on Hasani as he matures, his future seems bright, and he’s become a fan favorite of zoo attendees.
“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,” Storms said.
We wish Hasani and his caregivers the best of luck as he grows into a handsome adult giraffe!
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