Colorado Zoo Celebrates Breakthrough In Giraffe Medical Care

COLORADO SPRINGS (CBS4) – Administrators at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs says animal care teams have broken ground on two new forms of giraffe veterinary care.

Veterinarians say they have used stem-cell transfusion therapy and custom-made urethane “sneakers” to treat giraffes at the zoo.

cheyenne mountain zoo giraffe cam Colorado Zoo Celebrates Breakthrough In Giraffe Medical Care

(credit: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo)

Dr. Liza Dadone and the staff of the Colorado State University James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital grew stem cells from giraffe blood, and injected that back into the giraffe.

It’s believed that treatment is the first of its kind in the world.

Mahali, a 14-year-old male giraffe, suffered from chronic lameness and had not been moving well, despite medication and treatment from the animal care group. Doctors decided on the stem cell injection treatment plan. A month after the procedure, Mahali showed significantly less inflammation.

“This is meaningful to us not only because it is the first time a giraffe has been treated with stem cells, but especially because it is bringing Mahali some arthritis relief and could help other giraffes in the near future,” Dr. Dadone said through a zoo press release.

Another zoo giraffe, 14-year-old Twiga, has advanced arthritis and osteoporosis in her feet. After constant monitoring, a farrier specialist made custom shoes for her. After placement of the sneakers, doctors said they noticed immediate changes in her behavior.

Large animals are susceptible to issues like arthritis and osteoporosis, stemming mainly from their size.

“So much of it just relates to the pure mechanics of weighing a ton,” Dr. Dadone said.

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