Baby giraffe born with leg abnormalities is given therapeutic shoes

A baby giraffe that was born with leg abnormalities is getting some help taking his first steps by wearing custom-made therapeutic shoes.

The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle posted pictures to Facebook of the their new male calf that was born on May 2 to mom Olivia. Just hours after birth, zoo veterinarians noticed the the little guy's two rear feet were not aligned correctly.

"The condition is known as hyperextended fetlocks. It is well documented in horses and has been reported to occur in giraffes," said Dr. Tim Storms, associate veterinarian at the zoo.

The zoo's animal care staff jumped into action immediately, casting both of the giraffe's legs. The zoo's exhibits team was also called in to help to craft two-piece shoes made of high density polyethylene and plywood.

"At this stage, the new therapeutic shoes are on a trial basis but I'm hopeful that they will help him walk better. We'll continue refining and improving our approach to find a good balance between supporting his limbs and strengthening his tendons," said Storms.

The yet-to-be-named baby giraffe will have to wear the custom-fit therapeutic shoes over several months. The zoo says they appreciate the way the staff has responded with an 'all hands on deck' attitude and that besides his leg issues, the new giraffe is doing well.

"While our baby giraffe is healthy and continues nursing and bonding with mom, he remains in guarded condition and under close observation. As we move forward with his treatment, we'll continue assessing the best course of action to help him walk and grow normally," added Storms.