The calf at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park was thought to require bespoke leg braces, so it contacted the Hanger Clinic, a nationwide maker of outcome-based orthotic and prosthetic treatment. Despite the fact that the clinic specializes on human treatment, members of the San Diego-based Hanger Clinic team collaborated with the zoo to devise a unique approach for Msituni.

“We are ecstatic to have the tools and knowledge to step in and help this young calf get the opportunity for a full life,” Dr. Matt Kinney, DVM, a senior veterinarian with the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (SDZWA), said in a statement. “Without these lifesaving braces to support her legs, the position of her legs would have become increasingly more painful and she would have been unable to overcome it.”

Giraffe leg braces

CREDIT: KEN BOHN/SAN DIEGO ZOO

The crew swiftly produced the custom-molded carbon graphite orthotic braces after the calf’s legs were cast molds, and Msituni was fitted with her new equipment.

“It’s so exciting,” said Ara Mirzaian, a qualified orthotist at Hanger Clinic. “I’ve never dealt with animals before — it’s one of those things that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and you just have to enjoy the experience.”