Rescue
Baby giraffe born with ‘leg disorder’ gets braces and takes first steps
Msituni had a low chance of surviving with her condition. But thanks to the collaboration of San Diego Wildlife Alliance, she learned how to get back up her feet again.
Cherie Gozon
05.24.22

Every creature on Earth deserves a chance to live their best lives.

We try to help as many living things as possible, so they have a second chance at surviving. The lives of plants and animals are just as meaningful as humans because we rely on each other in this ecosystem.

Unsplash - Daria Gordova
Source:
Unsplash - Daria Gordova

So, whenever a zoo or sanctuary takes in an animal in need of additional medical attention, vets and other experts would do their best to save them.

That’s what San Diego Zoo Safari did with this giraffe named Msituni.

YouTube Screenshot - San Diego Zoo
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - San Diego Zoo

Msituni was born with hyperextended legs. She had unstable wrist joints, which caused her front legs to bend improperly, making it difficult for her to stand, walk, and run properly.

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance worked together to rehabilitate her legs.

A group of wildlife workers, trainers, handlers, and orthopedists from Hanger Clinic came together to give this giraffe a new lease on life. They created customized leg braces and a specialized treatment plan for Msituni.

YouTube Screenshot - San Diego Zoo
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - San Diego Zoo

They first had to do initial fittings and created moldings from her legs. With that, they made the orthotic braces and further personalized them by adding a giraffe pattern on it to match her markings.

Once her braces were on, they trained Msituni to walk with them.

You can see that she had some doubts initially, and she hesitated a bit. But with the patience and guidance of the wildlife specialist, she started walking with confidence.

YouTube Screenshot - San Diego Zoo
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - San Diego Zoo

Msituni grew bigger and stronger as the days passed, and it was an excellent sign of how she was adapting to her new life. The moment the care team saw that she could stand and walk on her own, they started to let her get used to being with others of her kind.

There she met Yamikani and her child, Nuru.

The trio got to know each other, brushing up on Msituni’s giraffe behavior and other developmental skills that a giraffe calf must learn. They wanted her to get used to being with them before she could be with the rest of the tower.

YouTube Screenshot - San Diego Zoo
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - San Diego Zoo

And then, Msituni was ready for the big world. They released her to the Safari Park’s 60-acre savannah habitat. She was greeted with warm kisses, and it was evident how happy she was to be with her kind.

The zoo and the rest of the team saw this as one of their best success stories.

“Wildlife care staff said Msituni’s chances of survival would have been very low without the treatment provided by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance team in collaboration with orthotists from Hanger Clinic,” they said in a press release.

According to Senior Veterinarian Matt Kinney, all the resources and expertise they put together and provided young Msituni gave her the biggest opportunity to live her life to the fullest.

YouTube Screenshot - San Diego Zoo
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - San Diego Zoo

From the brace support to the intensive care plan, everything worked out well for her. What seemed to be a difficult and near-impossible task became manageable, and its fruits were very rewarding to see.

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By Cherie Gozon
hi@sbly.com
Cherie Gozon is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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