Baby giraffe with leg abnormalities outfitted with therapeutic shoes at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo

SEATTLE -- A baby giraffe with leg abnormalities is getting a little help taking its first steps, thanks to some custom-made therapeutic shoes.

When the giraffe was just 5 days old, zookeepers at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle discovered the little guy had some significant abnormalities to his rear legs.

So, specialists at the zoo teamed up and crafted the special shoes to help him out. The shoes are made of high density polyethylene and plywood with grooves for better adhesion to the foot and for better traction, according to the zoo's website.

The giraffe has a condition known as hyper-extended fetlocks.

"It is well documented in horses and has been reported to occur in giraffes," says Dr. Tim Storms, an associate veterinarian at the zoo.

The unnamed calf has to wear the shoes for several more months of continued treatment.

"At this stage, the new therapeutic shoes are on a trial basis but I'm hopeful that they will help him walk better. We'll continue refining and improving our approach to find a good balance between supporting his limbs and strengthening his tendons," Storms said.

The doctor added that zoo officials will keep the baby giraffe under close observation, and they will continue assessing the best course of action to help the animal walk and grow normally.
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