Three-month-old giraffe calf gets a new lease on life after receiving custom braces to fix legs

Giraffes are the tallest animals in the world, standing tall and proud on their majestic, long legs. But when one giraffe calf was born with abnormalities in her legs, it threatened her life and wellbeing.

But thankfully, she received help from some kind humans, and is now standing tall and proud after receiving specialized leg braces.

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According to a press release from the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, the female calf, named Msituni, was born with a hyperextension of the carpi, causing her front legs to bend improperly and make it difficult for her to walk.

If left untreated, Msituni would have been in a lot of pain and she likely wouldn’t have been able to survive. But thankfully, vets at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park collaborated with orthotists from the Hanger Clinic to fix the problem and give this calf a chance.

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The Hanger Clinic specializes in orthotics and prosthetics, but usually only deal with human patients. However, they were able to help the park create specialized leg braces just for Msituni, made from custom-molded carbon graphite.

The idea was a success, and soon Msituni was on the road to recovery thanks to her new friends and special braces.

“I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment,” said Ara Mirzaian, certified orthotist at Hanger Clinic, according to the press release. “I’ve never worked with wildlife before—it’s one of those things that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and you just have to savor the moment.”

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“We are so glad to have the resources and expertise to step in and provide this young calf the opportunity for a full life,” said Matt Kinney, DVM, senior veterinarian at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

“Without these lifesaving braces to provide support, the position of her legs would have become increasingly more painful and progressed to a point she would not have been able to overcome.”

With the leg braces giving her crucial support as she grew, the calf was given a chance to develop normally. And now, she’s just like any other giraffe.

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According to the press release, Msituni made such strides that the leg braces have now been removed, and she no longer requires antibiotics.

Even better, she’s rejoined the herd in the park’s giraffe habitat. “This was an important step in Msituni’s natural development,” explains Kristi Burtis, director of wildlife care at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “As her bond grows with the herd, she will be able to learn behaviors and skills important to the development of a young giraffe.”

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Msituni has come a long way after being born with life-threatening abnormalities. No one was sure she was going to be able to survive at first, and seeing her bonding with her herd, standing tall on her own feet, made the vets very proud.

“The birth of every animal is a cherished event, and Msituni’s survival in the face of so much adversity makes it all the more remarkable,” Matt Kinney said.

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What an amazing story. Giraffes need strong health legs to survive, and we’re so glad these vets and park staff went the extra mile to find a treatment for Msituni so she could thrive.

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