On Thursday 16 February, the Zoo’s veterinary team and external specialists performed a successful health check and hoof trim on Tisa, the Zoo’s 26 year old female Giraffe under general anaesthetic.
Our animal care and veterinary team have been monitoring Tisa closely after she was showing signs of discomfort in her left hind foot.
After extensive consultation between the animal care and veterinary teams at the Zoo, we decided a health check under anaesthetic was in the best interest for Tisa, as her condition had not been improving after initial medical treatments. Yesterday morning we performed a general anaesthetic on Tisa to give her a medical examination, take some x-rays and trim the hoof that has been causing her trouble.
The procedure was performed in an hour by a large team consisting of 29 staff, including veterinarians, Zoo Keepers and specialists from around the country.
Yesterday we had assistance from several specialists, including an anaesthetist from Massey University, Vicki Walsh who used an equine anaesthetic machine to assist with the procedure and monitor Tisa closely. We also had equine veterinary specialist, Chris Riley from Massey University assist us with x-rays and Fred Hoekstra, a hoof specialist from Ashburton.
During yesterday’s procedure, x-rays showed evidence of mild arthritis and signs of an old injury that is healing. After consulting with Fred, the hoof specialist, Tisa’s hooves were trimmed and reshaped and will hopefully help alleviate the swelling around her feet and make her more comfortable.
Giraffes are incredibly difficult to anaesthetise due to their large size and physiology. They may have a risk of injury should they fall in certain ways during the induction of anaesthesia. Tisa weighs about a tonne and her large head needed to be supported throughout the procedure to ensure the muscles in her neck stayed relaxed.
We were thrilled to see Tisa back up on her feet after the anaesthetic was reversed. Due to her size, it’s a long way for her to get back up!
We checked on her every four hours over night and we will continue to monitor Tisa over the next few days, and we are optimistic that we will see noticeable improvement in her hoof and see her more comfortably moving around.