Inside look at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden Giraffe Care

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) –The six giraffes at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden are getting some extra tender loving care lately.

Alyson Proveaux, Curator of Mammals at Riverbanks Zoo, says giraffes are going through what curators call a silent extinction — with the overall population of giraffes not considered endangered but vulnerable.

“We love our giraffes and we just want people to learn as much as possible about them and realize the care that goes into them. And just realize how unusual and cool they are as animals,” Proveaux says.

To help the giraffes at Riverbanks Zoo stay strong, Proveaux says she and her team are training the giraffes on how to present their feet for hoof trimming.

With training not yet complete, giraffes like Isabelle are placed under anesthesia while zookeepers trim her hooves.

“In giraffes that do get regular hoof care from a young age, we’re seeing a reduction in arthritis, in issues with their feet bones, less ligament and joint issues, so we’re actually seeing in the giraffes that are starting young, we’re actually able to prevent a lot of stuff,” Proveaux says.

Zookeepers report that positive results from hoof trimming are noticeable as soon as the next day.

“A good analogy is everyone brushes their teeth everyday at least you should. But you still have to go to the dentist once in a while,” says Proveaux.

The Riverbanks Zoo team also collect blood samples to check the health of the giraffe and pull plasma from the adults to help the baby giraffes.

“So plasma is something that is really helpful if we have a sick baby giraffe and not necessarily us but any zoos near us. If they have a baby giraffe that needs plasma that is kind of sick, that will help that health turn around. So actually we are trying to become a facility who’s banking plasma so if any facilities near us have a need for it, we can emergency run them plasma,” Proveaux says.


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