Clinical conditions found radiographically in the front feet of Reticulated giraffe (Giraffe Camelopardalis reticulata) in a single zoo

Author(s)Liza Dadone, Francisco Olea-Popelka, Eliza Stout, Steve Foxworth, Eric Klaphake, Matthew S. Johnston, Sushan Han, and Myra Barrett
Year Published2019
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Page Numbers528–538
Size677.78 KB

Front foot radiographs from 22 giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) at one zoo were analyzed to better understand causes of lameness in this giraffe population. The herd had a history of front hoof overgrowth and intermittent lameness. Radiographic findings included distal interphalangeal joint osteoarthritis (OA), distal phalangeal bone (P3) osteitis, P3 fractures, P3 rotation, and sesamoid bone cysts. OA of the distal interphalangeal joint occurred in at least one front foot of 73% (16/22 giraffe) of the herd, and all giraffe had OA by 7 yr of age. Pedal osteitis was present in at least one front foot in 86% (19/22) of the giraffe, starting in animals as young as 1 yr old. P3 fractures were present in 36% (8/22) of the herd. These fractures were near the site of the deep digital flexor attachment and were diagnosed in giraffe as young as 10 yr old. The presence of severe osteitis was associated with the presence of P3 fractures. This study is unique in that a large herd was trained to participate in voluntary front foot radiographs so multiple causes of foot disease could be diagnosed antemortem and without anesthesia. Although the underlying causes of these lesions are likely multifactorial and currently unknown to us, the high prevalence of foot disease in relatively young animals warrants further investigation across zoos. In this study, OA, osteitis, and P3 fractures were common radiographic findings among giraffe that were limping. Subsequent monitoring and management changes suggest that proactive management of foot health can decrease morbidity and mortality in zoo giraffe.

Keywords: Distal phalangeal fracture, Giraffe, lameness, Osteoarthritis, Pedal osteitis, Radiograph, Training

Authors: Liza Dadone, Francisco Olea-Popelka, Eliza Stout, Steve Foxworth, Eric Klaphake, Matthew S. Johnston, Sushan Han, and Myra Barrett

Journal: Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine

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