Diagnosis and Management of Pedal Osteitis and Pedal Fractures for a Large Herd of Reticulated Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata)
Over four years, ∼60% of a herd of 20 reticulated giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) were prescribed NSAIDs for at least one lameness episode. As of March 2013, almost all had hoof overgrowth of one or more front feet.
Using operant-conditioning training over the next year, zoo staff trained most of the herd for front foot assessments in a non-chute, protected-contact setting, including palmar evaluations, radiographs, and farrier trims. There was a high incidence of radiographic abnormalities including pedal osteitis, pedal fractures, abnormal joint angles, arthritis, and sole foreign bodies. Farrier trims corrected toe, heel, and sole overgrowth with the goal of restoring normal hoof symmetry and foot weight distribution. These farrier trims are now performed every four to eight weeks in an effort to maintain normal symmetry. Supplemental husbandry medication and pharmacological modifications were also implemented, varying by individual situation.
Computed tomography (CT) and histopathology were performed on three deceased individuals to improve our understanding of the pathophysiology, to assess for etiologies/contributing factors, and to develop hoof trim metrics/parameters.
Lameness and hoof overgrowth are common health concerns in captive giraffe. Zoos with giraffe will benefit from evaluating hoof health before severe lameness or hoof overgrowth develops. We hypothesize that operant-conditioning training of giraffe for foot care/management and radiographs may minimize/prevent future lameness and foot pathologies.
Thanks to the entire giraffe team at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo: the keepers for incredible training; the vet technologists for taking so many radiographs; and to Bob Chastain, Tracy Thessing, Jason Bredahl, and Jeremy Dillon for helping identify possible husbandry modifications and setting training goals. Thanks also to the CSU radiology department for performing the foot CTs.