Newborn giraffe at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo treated for abnormalities in legs

For now, mom and calf are off view in the giraffe barn to allow a cozy, quiet environment for maternal bonding and nursing.

“The baby was on his feet within an hour after he was born, which is what we want to see,” says Katie Ahl, a lead keeper at Woodland Park Zoo. “Olivia is an experienced mother and she’s showing good maternal behavior for her second baby.”

While the baby is standing and nursing, he’s not quite walking normally on his rear legs, notes Dr. Tim Storms, associate veterinarian at Woodland Park Zoo. “This condition could resolve itself as the baby gains more strength and walks around more. We’ll keep a close eye on it and, if necessary, take measures, such as wrapping it, to ensure the legs are stabilized.” 

 

The baby giraffe marks the first offspring between Olivia and the father, 6-year-old Dave. Olivia had her first baby in 2013 at Woodland Park Zoo with a different mate. The unnamed calf and mother are off view in the giraffe barn to allow a quiet environment for maternal bonding and nursing.

We know that you are sending good vibes for this little one to heal and we thank you very much for your support and well wishes at this time. It means so much to have support from our zoo community—and we will pass along your words of encouragement to our animal keepers and animal health staff.

On May 2, 2019, giraffe Olivia gave birth to a male giraffe. Less than 12 hours after his birth, the animal health team intervened to radiograph and diagnose abnormalities in his rear legs.

The baby giraffe was on his feet and walking within an hour after he was born. “However, we noticed right away that each rear foot was not in normal alignment, a condition known as hyperextended fetlocks,” said Dr. Darin Collins, director of animal health at Woodland Park Zoo. “We have applied casts on both rear legs to help heal the tendons, which is the current best practice in treating this condition in newborns. Treatment will most likely span over several months. The baby is in guarded condition and we will continue to monitor him closely.” This condition is found in horses and has been reported to occur in giraffes, explained Collins. “He otherwise is healthy and continues to nurse and bond with mom,” added Collins.

 

“As soon as he was born, our animal care and health staff connected with this baby giraffe as we do with all of our animals. He’s a symbol of hope for the future of his species and already lives in our hearts. We’re rallying for this new animal to thrive and we’re very grateful to our community and fans who have already showed an outpouring of love for our baby giraffe,” said Martin Ramirez, mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo.

Mom and her baby will remain off view in the barn for an indefinite period and to allow continued maternal bonding and nursing in a cozy, private setting.

In the following days, the zoo will launch a community naming contest and a live barn cam. Giraffe fans will have an exciting opportunity to see Olivia and her baby as they bond in the barn and to watch the baby grow. Viewers can access the barn cam once it goes live (the web cam is not live just yet) and see updates 

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