MONDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: Penny The Giraffe’s Condition Is ‘Far More Serious’ Than Previously Thought

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) — Penny, Colorado’s youngest giraffe, is expected to undergo surgery at Colorado State University on Monday.

Penny was born at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo on June 4. Nine days later, she was found splayed in her pen.

“Splaying means that her legs had gone out from underneath her in an unnatural way,” officials explained. “This can be anywhere from not very serious and treatable to life-threatening.”

Since then, Penny has received specialized care around the clock.

RELATED: Penny The Giraffe Story Archive

Last week, the veterinary staff put casts on both Penny’s front legs, as well as a longer brace on her front left leg, meant to help with bowing. Learn more about the casts and braces here.

(credit: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo)

The material for the casts were contributed by Colorado Canine Orthopedics & Rehab and Southern Colorado Veterinary Internal Medicine. The leg brace was donated by Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group.

On Sunday, Bob Chastain, president and CEO of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, gave an update with a very affectionate Penny by his side, licking his face and nuzzling up against him.

(credit: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo)

Chastain said Penny was getting around better and they were seeing improvement in her front legs, however her white blood cell count had begun to rise again.

“We’re concerned about that… she looks bright and seems stable, she doesn’t have a fever, but if the white blood cell count continues to rise we’ll see her start to decline,” Chastain said.

Zookeepers were also concerned about an infected area in her right hind leg.

“X-ray results from Saturday morning indicate the abscess is big enough and deep enough to require the help from surgical specialists at CSU,” officials stated on Facebook. ” The veterinary staff at CSU are specialists with specialized equipment, and we believe they can help provide Penny with the best possible outcome.”

CMZ staff is collecting blood from other giraffes, just in case Penny needs it.

Dr. Liza, Jason and a small team will travel and stay with Penny, and will remain a part of the core care team during this process. Dr. Matt Johnston will be the one coordinating Penny’s care up at CSU, where he is the faculty chief for avian, exotic and zoological medicine,” zoo officials said Sunday.

They hope to bring Penny back to the zoo on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Last week, Bob Chastain, president and CEO of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, said Penny had been eating well.

“She is eating and she’s gaining weight. She had a record –she drank a 2-liter bottle of milk in less than a minute today,” Chastain said.

She’s gained about 20 pounds in just over two weeks, Chastain said.

You can watch the previous updates from Friday below.


If you would like to make a donation to help the zoo pay for Penny’s medical care, click here. Any donation will go to support her care.


Leave a Reply