Watch as our giraffes participate in voluntary hoof cleaning.
Watch as Gerald gets a new shoe to help with his fracture in his right hoof.
Even while Elmwood Park Zoo is temporarily closed, our Animal Care Staff is continuing to provide excellent care to our zoo residents. On Sunday, March 15, Elmwood Park Zoo was visited by farrier Steve Foxworth from the Zoo Hoofstock Trim Program (a division of the Equine Lameness Prevention Organization). Steve provided nearly four hours of continuing education to EPZ Giraffe Trainers and Veterinary Staff on hoof care techniques and applications in zoologic species and trimmed hooves on our donkeys Pickles and Jenny, several of our goats (including Dante, Prissy and Opal), and all three of our giraffe!
Steve’s visit represents the culmination of nearly 2 years of training in our giraffe for voluntary hoof care. Our incredibly dedicated Giraffe Trainers have been working diligently during this time using positive reinforcement training to acclimate our giraffe to the process of hoof trimming. Proactive voluntary hoof care will allow us to provide better healthcare and welfare to our giraffe throughout their lives.
One of the highlights of Steve’s visit was the time that he spent with Gerald giraffe. Almost 2 months ago, Gerald sustained a fracture to one of the pedal bones in his right front hoof. During this time, Gerald has received numerous medications, supplements and cold laser therapy. The Digatherm Thermal Imaging camera generously donated by Metropolitan Veterinary Associates has allowed us to monitor thermal temperatures in his right front foot and leg to evaluate the success of our treatments. After trimming Gerald’s right front hoof, Steve applied a custom designed “shoe” based on a template made from Gerald’s foot. This process took several minutes and required that Gerald stay perfectly still while the adhesive set up. As you can see in the video above, Gerald was a model patient! In many cases, giraffe have to be under general anesthesia for the application of the shoe – thanks to the EPZs excellent Giraffe Training Team, Gerald allowed the shoe to be applied while he was standing and completely awake!
Following the application of the shoe, Gerald was able to fully bear weight on his injured right front foot and now shows no lameness or discomfort. He presented his left front foot for trimming (symmetry is important to Gerald) and for voluntary radiographs so that we can better monitor the bones in his left front foot after the fracture to the right front foot. We are hoping to keep the shoe on for at least 6 weeks – if it falls off on its on before that time we will attempt to replace it using the techniques that we learned from Steve Foxworth. Gerald will continue to be on anti-inflammatories and nutritional supplements for the next several months while his fracture continues to heal. We are extremely grateful to Wedgewood Pharmacy and to SmartPak for providing donated and discounted products to help Gerald on his road to recovery during the zoo’s closure. Gerald will require frequent voluntary hoof radiographs to monitor healing as well as regular voluntary hoof trims to keep his hooves healthy.