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Caring for Abu

As many of you know, Abu, our oldest giraffe, recently underwent an important medical procedure that required his hooves to be trimmed. Since a giraffe procedure that involves anesthesia is both a high-risk procedure, especially for giraffe, and is relatively uncommon, I thought that I would share what goes into the planning and performance of such a procedure.

A hoof trim for a giraffe is similar to us getting a pedicure and taking care of our own feet. Sometimes it requires a little extra TLC in order to make sure that we are maintaining a healthy and comfortable alignment of our feet and nails. Although the Hoofstock Care Team and Veterinary Team have been working together to treat arthritis in Abu’s front left foot, his hooves needed to be trimmed in order to help combat the continued development of the arthritis.

Several months of planning involving several Zoo Atlanta teams, as well as outside teams, went into this procedure. One of the Giraffe Care Team had previously attended an intensive hoof care workshop with a team that specializes in giraffes. Having hands-on experience and learning about how we can maintain hoof conditions is important in allowing us to maintain and continue to care for Abu and the other boys in the herd as they age. Our Veterinary Team reached out to institutions that have performed procedures like this to help develop a step-by-step plan from when the anesthetic was introduced to Abu until he was back up on his hooves after the procedure, as well as the recovery time that followed. Each team member involved in the procedure was assigned roles and tasks prior to the procedure. We also reached out to an external professional team that specializes in the hoof care of giraffes. Having such an experienced team perform the hoof trim allowed for our Hoofstock Care and Veterinary Teams to focus on the tasks and roles that they were assigned. Preceding COVID-19, we were able to do walk throughs of the procedure and have several meetings about what would occur before, during, and after the procedure to insure that each team member was comfortable with their role and the plan of the procedure.

Needless to say, the procedure and his recovery went wonderfully, and changes in Abu’s mobility were immediate. We appreciate all the well wishes and support that we received prior to the procedure and throughout the time of our being closed.

The giraffe, zebras, and ostriches cannot wait to see you all!

Sarah S.
Swing Keeper I, Mammals

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl