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Baby giraffe born with legs bending wrong way now walks properly thanks to brace

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Msituni undergoing treatment for wonkey legs. (San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance via SWNS)

By Fiona Jackson via SWNS

A baby giraffe born with legs bending the wrong way is now walking properly - with the help of a brace.

The three-month-old calf, named Msituni, received a pair of patterned orthotic braces for her front two legs soon after she was born, and wore them for 39 days.

She was born at San Diego Zoo Safari Park with hyperextension in her carpi bones that had caused her limbs to bend improperly and make it difficult for her to walk and stand.

Carpi bones in a giraffe act like wrist joint bones in their front limbs, which are built more like arms than legs.

Wildlife care staff at the zoo said that it is unlikely she would have survived without the treatments provided by San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and Hanger Clinic.

Matt Kinney, senior veterinarian at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, said: "Without these lifesaving braces to provide support, the position of her legs would have become increasingly more painful and progressed to a point she would not have been able to overcome.

“We are so glad to have the resources and expertise to step in and provide this young calf the opportunity for a full life.

“The birth of every animal is a cherished event, and Msituni’s survival in the face of so much adversity makes it all the more remarkable."

A three-month-old giraffe who was born with her legs bending the wrong way has been fitted with leg supports to help her walk. (San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance via SWNS)
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Hanger Clinic normally provides orthotic and prosthetic care to human patients, but made an exception for the little giraffe.

Clinic staff consulted with wildlife care specialists from the safari park in Escondido, California to develop a customized plan that was specific to Msituni and her case.

They took cast moldings of the 5ft 10in calf's legs before using them to create graphite orthotic braces which fit perfectly and stabilized her limbs.

They also covered them with a giraffe pattern, to give them a natural look.

Hanger Clinic orthotist, Ara Mirzaian, said: “I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment,

“I’ve never worked with wildlife before—it’s one of those things that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and you just have to savor the moment.”

When Msituni was born at the safari park on February 1, she suffered with abnormalities in her blood and all four legs had irregular positioning.

She was treated with intravenous antibiotics and given specialized hoof extenders to fix the position of her back legs.

A three-month-old giraffe who was born with her legs bending the wrong way has been fitted with leg supports to help her walk. (San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance via SWNS)

But, as she was born weighing 121b, her wonky front legs were already taking their toll on her joints and bones.

Msituni only needed one custom brace for her front leg in the end, as the other leg corrected itself with a medical grade brace.

Her excellent recovery meant that, after 39 days, she could have all her braces removed.

The female giraffe, who has gown to a healthy weight and height since the treatment on her legs, has been introduced the rest of the giraffe herd in the East Africa savanna habitat.

As her mom never took her back, she has been "adopted" by an adult female, named Yamikani, whose female calf, Nuru, was born four days after Msituni.

Kristi Burtis, director of wildlife care at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, said: “This was an important step in Msituni’s natural development,

“As her bond grows with the herd, she will be able to learn behaviors and skills important to the development of a young giraffe.”

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