A three-month-old giraffe with a condition causing her legs to bend the wrong way has been fitted with special braces to help her walk properly.
Msituni struggled to even stand before she was fitted with the custom orthotic braces on her front legs.
Staff at San Diego Zoo Safari Park feared that the 5ft 10in newborn could die if she did not receive treatment to correct the condition.
They got in touch with orthotic experts at the Hanger Clinic, which usually makes orthotics and prosthetics for humans, to design a custom brace for Msituni.
It was the first time Ara Mirzaian, who has spent the past three decades fitting braces for Paralympians to children with scoliosis, treated an animal patient.
The clinician said it was ‘pretty surreal’ when he first heard about Msituni.
‘It was the coolest thing to see an animal like that walk in a brace,’ he said. ‘It feels good to know we saved a giraffe’s life.’
The team used cast moldings of the giraffe’s legs to make the carbon graphite braces that featured the animal’s distinct pattern of crooked spots to match her fur.
‘The hyperextension, the joint going the wrong way, was the big concern with her,’ said Matt Kinney, senior veterinarian at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
‘So initially we stabilised that joint with casts while we had some time to purchase some braces, just off-the-shelf braces.
‘Applied those the next day and realised those weren’t quite strong enough and needed to take it a step up.’
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