How a Seattle Zoo Helped “Handsome” Giraffe’s Foot Problem


At our practice, we see all kinds of foot and ankle problems, ranging from hammertoe, bunions, and tendonitis to heel pain and ingrown toenails. But we never have seen a baby giraffe that needed therapeutic shoes!

That’s what happened at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. Little Hasani – Swahili for “handsome” – was born with a condition called hyperextended fetlocks, where his rear feet are not in the normal alignment. This problem is common in horses.

Professional Team Created Custom-Made Therapeutic Shoes for “Handsome”

Soon after his birth, the zoo “hoof doctor” and other professional volunteers assessed Hasani’s feet and gait (giraffes are able to walk almost immediately after they are born). The team created custom wooden therapeutic shoes for the little giraffe that are waterproof and have textured metal bottoms. These will let Hasani get a better grip on muddy surfaces so he can get more exercise. The giraffe will also wear leg casts that will help him heal.

Their techniques were not that far off from those that we practice every day when we create custom-fitted orthotics for our patients. These can help with many foot-related problems, ease foot pain, and help with your gait.

“Handsome” is a popular animal at the zoo and has many visitors. But for now, he and his mother are secluded in the giraffe barn while his treatment progresses.

We’re not sure if the doors in our Scarborough office can accommodate even a baby giraffe! But we welcome patients of all ages who have foot or ankle pain or other foot complaints. We are the experts and will be happy to give you a thorough examination, accurate diagnosis, and effective treatment plan.

By the way – if you see any lobsters with sore feet on your way here, please point them in the direction of the Maine State Aquarium!

Let Us Help Relieve Your Foot Pain

Foot or toe pain is not normal! If you have any discomfort from arthritis, an injury or just from overuse, please call Michele Kurlanski, DPM at Lighthouse Foot and Ankle Center. Dr. Kurlanski offers expert and professional podiatry services in Cumberland County, Maine. Please call us today at 207-774-0028 to schedule your appointment in our Scarborough office.