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Baby giraffe born with leg disorder is fitted with orthotic at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

ESCONDIDO, California – For the past three decades, Ara Mirzaian has been installing braces for everyone, from Paralympians to children with scoliosis. But Msituni was a patient who did not look like anyone else – a newborn giraffe.

The calf was born on February 1 in the safari park of the San Diego Zoo in Escondido, north of San Diego, with its front end bending incorrectly. Safari park staff feared she could die if they did not rectify the situation immediately, which could prevent her from breastfeeding and walking in the habitat.

But they had no experience putting a baby giraffe on a stand. This proved to be particularly difficult as he was a 178 cm tall newborn 178 cm tall and growing every day. Thus, orthodontists approached the Hanger Clinic, where Mirzaian landed his first sick animal.

“It was quite surreal when I first heard it,” Mirzaian told the Associated Press this week during a tour to meet Msituni, who was walking alongside other giraffes without any problems. “Of course, all I did was go online and study the giraffes 24 hours a day, 7 hours a day until we got out.”

Zoos are increasingly turning to professional doctors who treat people to find solutions for sick animals. The collaboration was particularly helpful in the field of prosthetics and orthotics. Earlier this year, ZooTampa in Florida partnered with similar experts to successfully replace the beak of a large bird with cancer with a 3D prosthesis.

The Hanger team in California had proper orthotics for a cyclist and kayak who won medals at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil and adapted a brace for a multiple sclerosis marathon runner running on seven continents.

And in 2006, a group of Hangers in Florida created a prosthesis for a dolphin that had lost its tail after being entangled in ropes by a crab trap. Their story inspired the 2011 film “Dolphin Tale”.

But that was a clear learning curve for everyone, including Matt Kinney, a senior veterinarian for the San Diego Wildlife Zoo alliance responsible for Msituni’s case.

“We usually put on casts, bandages and more. But something as extensive as the splint she was given was something we really had to turn to our fellow (medical) colleagues,” Kinney said.

Msituni suffered from overextended wrist – wrist bones at the front limbs of giraffes, which look more like arms. As it overcompensated, the second front end also began to expand. Her hind leg joints were also weak, but could be corrected with specialized hoop extension.

And since she weighed more than 55 pounds at birth, the abnormality already weighed on her joints and bones.

While the custom braces were being made, Kinney first bought knee braces at Target after surgery, which he cut and re-sewn, but kept slipping. Msituni then wore medical braces for people who had been modified for her long legs. But in the end, Msituni broke one.

In order for the custom braces to work, they had to have range of motion but be durable, so Hanger partnered with a company that makes horse straps.

Using cast molds on the giraffe’s legs, it took eight days to make the carbon-graphite braces that featured the animal’s distinctive crooked spots to match its fur.

“We wore the giraffe design to make it fun,” Mirzaian said. “We do this with the kids all the time. They choose superheroes or their favorite team and we imprint it on their support. Why not do it with a giraffe?”

In the end, Msituni needed only one support. The other leg was corrected with the medical splint.

When she was lowered to fit the custom brace, Mirzaian was so moved by the animal’s beauty that he hugged her.

“It was just amazing to see such a big, beautiful creature right in front of me,” he said.

After 10 days on the custom bracket, the problem was fixed.

In total, she was in splints for 39 days from the day she was born. He stayed in the animal hospital all the time. After that, she slowly introduced herself to her mom and others in the herd. Her mom never took her back, but another giraffe adopted her, say, and now she runs together like the other giraffes.

Mirzaian hopes to hang a photo of the little giraffe on the prop with drawings so that the children he cares can be inspired to wear their own.

“It was the most beautiful thing to see an animal like this walking with a brace,” he said. “It’s nice to know we saved a giraffe’s life.”

Copyright © 2022 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Baby giraffe born with leg disorder is fitted with orthotic at San Diego Zoo Safari Park Source link Baby giraffe born with leg disorder is fitted with orthotic at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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