Giraffe 'sneakers' in use at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo!

 Photos Courtesy: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Photos Courtesy: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (KKTV)
Published: May. 24, 2017 at 3:52 PM MDT
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Just do it! Some of the giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are now sporting kicks of their own!

But it's not a new fashion craze sweeping the zoo -- it's a cutting-edge procedure infusing new life in ailing giraffes.

The zoo says 14-year-old Twiga was suffering from excruciating arthritis and osteoporosis in her feet. The condition -- common in animals like giraffes because of their sheer size -- was advanced.

Then a specialist came up with the idea to make custom shoes for her.

"We’ve had Twiga on medicine to help reverse her osteoporosis, but we wanted to do more to protect her feet. So with the help of the farriers, we gave her ‘giraffe sneakers’ to help give her some extra cushion,” said Dr. Liza Dadone, the vice president of mission and programs and head veterinarian for the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, in a statement Wednesday.

The zoo says Twiga immediately showed improvement.

A second giraffe, Mahali, was the beneficiary of an even more sophisticated treatment: stem cell therapy. The zoo and the Colorado State University veterinary program collaborated on the procedure, injecting 100 million stem cells into Mahali's front legs. The zoo says Mahali showed a dramatic decrease in inflammation and his quality of life has dramatically improved.

"Prior to the procedure, he was favoring his left front leg and would lift that foot off the ground almost once per minute. During the immobilization, we did multiple treatments that included hoof trims, stem cell therapy and other medications. Since then, Mahali is no longer constantly lifting his left front leg off the ground and has resumed cooperating for hoof care. A few weeks ago, he returned to life with his herd, including yard access. On the thermogram, the marked inflammation up the leg has mostly resolved," Dadone said.

It's believed to be the first treatment of its kind in the world.

Giraffe "sneakers, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo."