Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) Arthropathy: Postmortem Computed Tomography, Gross Pathology and Histopathologic Findings
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2015
June E. Olds1,2, DVM; Eric R. Burrough3, DVM, PhD, DACVP; Bailey L. Wilberts3, DVM, PhD; Elizabeth A. Riedesel1, DVM, DACVR
1Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA; 2Blank Park Zoo, Des Moines, IA, USA; 3Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA


A 21-year-old, intact female reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) was euthanized for deteriorating quality of life following chronic intermittent lameness and tendonitis of the fetlock joint for several years. Although hoof overgrowth is frequently reported in captive giraffe,1,2 hoof pathology was not a feature in this animal’s clinical disease. Antemortem diagnostic testing included thermal imaging and digital radiography performed with operant training.1 The giraffe had been medically managed for many years with oral chondroprotectants and intermittent non-steroidal pain medications; however, in the months prior to euthanasia, management also included husbandry modifications and daily multimodal pain medications. Postmortem computed tomography (CT) was performed on all four distal limbs to further characterize the joint lesions observed. CT revealed soft tissue and bony changes in multiple joints which had not been identified with antemortem testing. Complete necropsy and histopathology revealed severe tenosynovitis with erosive and ulcerative arthritis. Pyogranulomatous inflammation of the joints was an unexpected finding. Arthritis has been infrequently reported in giraffe.2,3 This investigation correlates clinical observations, antemortem diagnostic testing, postmortem CT and pathologic findings to better characterize chronic arthropathy in an aged giraffe.

Literature Cited

1.  Bertelsen MF. Giraffidae. In: Miller RE, Fowler ME, eds. Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine. Vol. 8. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2015:602–610.

2.  Dadone L, Han S, Foxworth S, Klaphake E, Johnston MS, Barrett M. Diagnosis and management of pedal osteitis and pedal fractures for a large herd of reticulated giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata). Proc Am Assoc Zoo Vet. 2014:104.

3.  Hammond EE, Miller CA, Sneed L, Radcliffe RW. Mycoplasma-associated polyarthritis in a reticulated giraffe. J Wildl Dis. 2003;39(1):233–237.


Speaker Information
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June E. Olds, DVM
Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
Iowa State University
Ames, IA, USA