Sadly, Margaret the giraffe calf had to be euthanised this week due to an irreparable leg injury which would have resulted in her not ever being able to stand or walk.
The calf, born in December 2020, was under observation for lameness and being treated with painkillers and antibiotics for what appeared to be a wounded leg - likely caused by an accidental kick from another giraffe in the herd. When the injury persisted, a veterinary examination was carried out under general anaesthetic which indicated a small crack to the bone, and a tendon injury, which it was hoped would heal with time.
The calf appeared to recover well from the anaesthesia and was eating but not drinking. However, it quickly became apparent that she was unable to stand. Her dedicated zookeepers spent hours attempting to get her upright, but she was unable to use the leg or support her own weight at all.
Zookeepers remained with her throughout the night, taking shifts to monitor her. Sadly however, her condition deteriorated significantly over the next 24 hours; she refused the fluids offered by zookeepers and was showing signs of severe dehydration.
An emergency follow-up operation showed the tendon damage had become more severe, with x-rays revealing that a ripped tendon had pulled off a fragment of bone, meaning she would be unlikely to ever walk again.
Due to her worsening dehydration, the calf’s organs were not getting enough blood and her kidneys had begun shutting down. Tragically, she had no chance of recovery and the kindest option was to euthanise while she was still under general anaesthetic to prevent any further trauma.
We are devastated by the loss of Margaret, and our keepers are focussing on the care of the rest of the herd. A full post-mortem investigation was conducted, and the results will be shared with veterinary colleagues around the world, which helps to build even greater understanding of animal health among zoos and wildlife vets worldwide.