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A new accomplishment for Abu

As work on our new savanna habitat continues, we’ve taken advantage of the fact that the savanna animals are always accessible to us in their behind-the-scenes areas. This has meant that we have also been able to increase the amount of training we have been working on with them. The biggest accomplishment so far for the Hoofstock Team comes in the form of hoof work training with Abu, the oldest and largest giraffe. You may not have thought about how animal care professionals tend to a hoof that is attached to a 2,500-pound animal, but it is something we must consider in order to perform routine hoof maintenance.

We started working with Abu earlier this year in our giraffe training chute, a specially-designed area for the giraffes that allows us to safely work with the animals while gaining access to different parts of their bodies, to present his hoof on a raised block. Abu took quickly to this task, as he had done similar behaviors in other parts of the giraffe area before. Once he was stepping up on cure, we worked to touch and encouraged him to curl his hoof over at the fetlock. This enables us and the Veterinary Team to see the bottom of the hoof. While working on duration of the curl behavior, we also took into consideration that we would also want to have outside expertise present while working on his hooves. So to prepare for a farrier to come in, we reached out to other departments to come play the role of “stranger.” This would allow Abu to get comfortable with the unfamiliar people who might come in to assist during the actual hoof trimming. Abu did wonderfully, and within a few short weeks, he was stepping up, curling, and was allowing us to touch the bottom of his hoof, all while we switched different folks in and out of the training area. After all of that, it was time for the actual trimming. The Vet Team collaborated with and brought in a trained farrier from the University of Georgia. During the farrier’s visit, Abu did all that we had worked together toward, and presented his hoof for us to be able to begin the trimming process. Way to go, Abu!
Kate Roca
Lead Keeper, Hoofstock

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