2,000-pound giraffe put under anesthesia to treat foot injuries

Staff at Zoo Miami in Florida anesthetized an 11-year-old reticulated giraffe so that carers could perform a series of procedures to improve “severe lameness” in his feet on Saturday, September 19.

Pongo, who stands over 16 feet tall and weighs nearly 2,000 pounds, was immobilized and cared for by a team of “over two dozen individuals from several institutions,” including veterinarians, veterinary technicians, zookeepers, and farriers, the zoo said.

The expert team X-rayed Pongo, trimmed his hooves, shaped and attached custom rubber shoes, treated his feet with laser therapy, and collected blood and tissue samples.

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X-rays revealed that Pongo had a recent fracture in his left rear foot as well as an old fracture in his front right foot. The rubber shoes are designed to immobilize and support the recently fractured foot while helping to balance the opposing foot.

Pongo’s head was kept elevated by a special board while staff constantly massaged his neck and body to stimulate blood flow.

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Staff breathed a sigh of relief when Pongo awoke from the procedure “relatively quickly,” the zoo said. It took the giraffe nearly 40 minutes to stand on his own.

Miami Zoo said Pongo has since been reunited with the rest of the herd and will be closely monitored over the next few months.