Over the past three decades, Ara Mirzayan has put braces on everything from Paralympic athletes to children with scoliosis. But Missituni was a patient like no other – a newborn giraffe.
The calf was born on February 1 in the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, north of San Diego, with its front limb misaligned. Staff at the safari park feared he could die if they did not correct the condition immediately, which could prevent him from breastfeeding and walking around the habitat.
But they had no experience fitting a baby giraffe into a splint. It proved to be particularly difficult as he was a 178 cm newborn and growing every day. So they contacted orthotics specialists at the Hunger Clinic, where Mirzayan dropped off his first veterinarian.
“It was quite surreal when I first heard about it,” Mirzayan told The Associated Press this week on a tour to meet Mistuni, who was walking alongside other giraffes without any problems. “Of course all I did was go online and study giraffes 24/7 until we got here.”
Go to professionals who treat people
Zoos are increasingly turning to medical professionals who take care of people to find solutions for sick animals. The collaboration has been particularly effective in the areas of prosthetics and orthotics. Earlier this year, Florida’s ZooTampa teamed up with like-minded specialists to successfully replace the lips of a cancer-stricken Great Hornbill with a 3D-printed prosthesis.
The Hangers, California team applied orthotics for a cyclist and a kayaker who both won medals at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil and customized a bracket for marathon runners with multiple sclerosis running across seven continents.
In 2006, a team from Hangar, Florida, created an artificial stability for a bottlenose dolphin that lost its tail after being caught in a crab trap. Their story inspired the 2011 film Dolphin story.
But Mistuni was a definite learning curve for everyone, including Matt Kinney, a senior veterinarian at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance who was in charge of the giraffe case.
“We often wear casts and bandages and everything. But something so vast, like this splint was given to him, something that we really had to go back to our people. [medicine] For colleagues, “Kinney said.
Hyper Extended Articular Bone
Misituni was suffering from a hyper extension of the corpus – the bone in the wrist joint of the giraffe’s forearm, much like the arm. As he pays extra compensation, the second front limb also begins to hyperact. The joints of his hind legs were also weak, but can be fixed with special hooves.
She weighed more than 55 kilograms at birth and this discrepancy was already affecting her joints and bones.
While making custom braces, Kenny first bought post-surgical knee braces from Target that he cut and sewed, but they kept slipping. After that, Missituni wore medical-grade bracelets for people that were modified for her long legs. But in the end Mituni broke one.
For custom orthotics to work, they must have a range of motion but be sustainable, so Hanger worked with a company that makes orthotics for horses.
Using the giraffe’s foot cast, it took eight days to create a carbon graphite suspender that featured its distinctive curled spot pattern to blend with the animal’s fur.
“We kept the giraffe pattern just for fun,” said Mirzayan. “It simply came to our notice then. They can choose superheroes or their favorite team and we print it on their braces. So why not do it with a giraffe? “
In the end, Msituni only needs one device. The other leg has been fixed with a medical grade splint.
When they put her under the custom corset, Mirzayan was so inspired by the beauty of the animal that she hugged him.
“It was amazing to see such a big, beautiful animal lying in front of me,” he said.
The problem was fixed after 10 days in custom brackets.
In total, Mituni wore a brace for 39 days from the time of her birth. He went to the veterinary hospital full time. After that, he gradually became acquainted with his mother and other members of the herd. His mother never took him back, but another female giraffe adopted him, so to speak, and he now runs like any other giraffe.
Mirzayan hopes to hang a picture of a baby giraffe in her patterned corset so that the children she treats are inspired to wear their clothes.
“It was the best thing to see an animal like this walk in a curve,” he said. “It’s nice to know we’ve saved a giraffe’s life.”