Baby Giraffe With Foot Condition Gets Custom Shoes to Help Him Walk

The zoo's animal health team realized Hasani had a condition called hyperextended fetlocks, when the rear feet are not in normal alignment.

Hasani is Swahili for handsome, and this baby giraffe sure looks the part as he takes his first steps in his new shoes.

Hasani lives at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo and is just a few weeks old. Shortly after his mother, Olivia, gave birth to him, the zoo's animal health team realized Hasani had a condition called hyperextended fetlocks. That means his rear feet are not in normal alignment.

Officials say it is a common condition in horses and has been known to affect giraffes.

Zoo officials got to work and made custom wooden therapeutic shoes for Hasani to wear on a trial basis. They also made him leg casts to help with the healing process.

The zoo’s associate veterinarian Dr. Tim Storms, along with a team from Kentucky who donated their time, made Hasani a new pair of shoes, similar to ones they have made for other little calves that they successfully treated with the same condition.

The shoes have textured metal bottoms for grip and are more water resistant than Hasani's previous wooden pair.

“This will be better for walking outdoors on wet ground and will allow him to exercise more, which is critical to his development,” Storms said in a statement from the zoo.

The shoes were a perfect fit.

Officials say Hasani is just in the beginning stages of treatment. The entire process could take months.

“While we are happy with Hasani’s response so far and these new shoes, he’s not out of the woods yet. His condition is still guarded and we’re keeping him under close observation. We’ll continue assessing the best course of action to help him walk and grow normally, and to find a good balance between supporting his limbs and strengthening his tendons,” Storms said.

Staff will continue to keep a close eye on him, while he and mom Olivia stay in the giraffe barn and out of public view.

Hasani is otherwise healthy and growing.  At birth, he weighed 155 pounds. Now he weighs 180 pounds.

Hasani also has visitors thinking of him. A little girl named Mia gifted him two Band-Aids, along with a note that read, “Please let him know that he has young friends with big hearts rooting for him.”