The Animal Care and Veterinary Teams at Zoo Atlanta are pleased to share that a planned major veterinary procedure for Abu the giraffe went well, and Abu’s recovery from the procedure continues as hoped. The teams continue to monitor Abu, who at almost 16 is the oldest member of the Zoo’s giraffe herd and is considered geriatric, closely for signs of complications.
Zoo Atlanta announced on August 2 that in partnership with Zoo Hoofstock Trim Program (ZHTP), an external professional team specializing in the hoof care of giraffes, the teams would be removing the two special therapeutic shoes Abu was fitted with in May 2021. The shoes were removed successfully on August 3 with the help of ZHTP and an anesthesiology team from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. The teams also administered stem cell therapy, an innovative tool that has proven helpful in treating osteoarthritis in a variety of species, using stem cells collected from Abu’s own blood.
The procedure required general anesthesia, which is risky for older individuals and is especially so for giraffes, given their unusual anatomy and physiology.
The hope is that the therapeutic shoes, which have also been used in horses and cows and are not intended to be worn for extended periods, helped to stabilize Abu’s joints to better manage discomfort associated with his arthritis. The Zoo Atlanta team plans to continue to manage his condition with analgesic medications, therapeutic laser therapy, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, and regular hoof trimming, which Abu has been trained to participate in voluntarily.
Visit zooatlanta.org to learn more about Abu and the other two members of his herd, younger males Etana and Isooba.