Skeeter Will Be Wearing Custom-Made Shoes On Front Hoofs During RecoveryBy WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 12-year-old giraffe at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is recovering — and walking — after a team of experts from around the country worked together to treat its injured hoof.

According to the zoo, the male giraffe, Skeeter, suffered an injury last year, causing him to be lame on his front left leg. Skeeter’s injury was not improving over time, and veterinarians discovered a fracture on his left hoof claw.

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It was determined that anesthesia and immobilization of Skeeter were necessary to repair Skeeter’s hoof. However, giraffes are an especially risky species to anesthetize, so a team of experts were assembled to plan a safe and successful procedure. These experts include Dr. Jeff Zuba, recently retired from San Diego Zoo, Dr. Liza Dadone from Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and Dr. Priya Bapodra from Columbus Zoo. The University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine also partners with the zoo.

In consultation with world-renowned farrier from the Zoo Hoofstock Trim Program, Steve Foxworth, it was decided that Skeeter’s front hooves would be trimmed. Then, custom-made shoes would be applied, acting as a splint to limit movement of the injured claw while the fracture fuses.

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“On the morning of August 12th, nine veterinarians, three veterinary technicians, three farriers including Steve Foxworth, and Como Zoo’s animal care team, all worked together masterfully to perform Skeeter’s procedure safely and successfully,” the Como Zoo said in a statement.

(credit: Como Zoo)

As of Thursday, Skeeter is “up, walking and enjoying his time outside” at the Como Zoo.

“The partnership with the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine is invaluable to our animals here at Como Zoo,” states Michelle Furrer, Como’s Zoo director and campus manager. “The ability to work with our staff to assemble a team of experts is a testament to the high quality of care all of our residents receive.”

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The shoes on Skeeter’s front hooves, which are not very visible, will be removed in eight to 10 weeks.