A Not-So-Common Giraffe

Zoe and animal keeper Katie Graves with Hasani at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington

On May 2, Hasani was born at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington. The baby giraffe weighed in at 155 pounds.

Hasani is a common giraffe. But after he was born, veterinarians and zookeepers soon realized that something was wrong. Hasani was unable to walk well because his rear legs were not aligned.

Hasani was diagnosed with a condition called hyperextended fetlocks. When he was only a day old, his legs were wrapped in a cast.

“In the wild, he wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the rest of the herd with his condition,” animal keeper Katie Graves told me during my recent visit to the zoo.



The zoo contacted a Kentucky Derby horse trainer who had dealt with a similar condition in race horses. Together, the experts created shoes for Hasani. They used horseshoes, but since Hasani is a giraffe, they added special extensions on the heel. 

“Giraffes are big, and they’re calm, but they are also very scared of things," said Tim Storms, an associate veterinarian at Woodland. “So, every time we had to change Hasani’s shoes, it was a big deal. It took a bunch of people holding him steady.” 


The innovative show that helped Hasani walk again


When Hasani walked with the new shoes, he was forced to walk on his hooves the way he was supposed to.

“As far as we know, no one has done this for a giraffe before,” said Farrah Paul, the zoo’s director of public relations and community affairs. “In the past, when a giraffe had this issue, they might not have survived.” 

Hasani wore the shoes for about two weeks. But he was an active giraffe and kept kicking them off.

One such time, the team decided to see if he could walk without them. “One of the shoes came off,” Storm said, “and he was still walking normally without it. Then we took the other shoe off, and he was still walking fine, so the shoes never had to go back on again.”

Hasani is still enjoying life at the zoo and seems to have a normal appetite. During my visit, he tried to eat my press pass! 


Hasani tries to eat Zoe’s press credential. 




Photos courtesy of the author