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First-of-its-kind surgery saves giraffe at Wisconsin zoo

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

KINJI THE GIRAFFE AT THE MILWAUKEE COUNTY ZOO IS RECOVERING AFTER A FIRST OF ITS KIND SURGERY. THE ZOO SAYS KENNEDY SUFFERED A UNIQUE BREEDING INJURY, SO THEIR STAFF PERFORMED A NOVEL SURGERY THAT TOOK DAYS OF PLANNING, PREPARATION AND OUTREACH. A GIRAFFE’S LONG NECK CAN MAKE IT DANGEROUS TO GO UNDER ANESTHESIA. WE HAVE TO GET IN THERE AND MAKE SURE WE GET THEIR HEAD POSITION CORRECTLY. WE KEEP THE AIRWAYS OPEN, KEEP THE BLOOD FLOW GOING, AND AND GET THEM STABILIZED AND MAKE SURE EVERYTHING’S READY FOR THE SURGERY. KENNEDY IS NEARLY 14FT TALL AND WEIGHS ALMOST 2,000 POUNDS. THE ZOO SAYS THEY D

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First-of-its-kind surgery saves giraffe at Wisconsin zoo

Kendi, standing nearly 14 feet tall and weighing almost 2,000 pounds, required careful planning and expert coordination.

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Updated: 4:18 PM PDT May 17, 2024

Kendi, a 4-year-old male reticulated giraffe at the Milwaukee County Zoo, has made history by successfully undergoing a groundbreaking surgery for a unique breeding injury. Kendi sustained the injury while attempting to breed with Maya, a 6-year-old female.The zoo’s animal care team discovered Kendi’s injury, a lacerated and infected prepuce, on April 2.According to the zoo, Kendi’s injury is believed to be the first of its kind in giraffes. The zoo’s animal care team initially tried pain medication, antibiotics, and topical treatment to manage Kendi’s injury, but these methods were ineffective. Anesthesia was necessary for a thorough assessment. However, giraffe immobilizations pose significant challenges due to their large size and unique physiology. Kendi, standing nearly 14 feet tall and weighing almost 2,000 pounds, required careful planning and expert coordination. With reticulated giraffes listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List, this incident required particular attention.The procedure, never before performed on a giraffe, required collaboration across multiple institutions and veterinary disciplines. Veterinary specialists from institutions including the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, Henry Vilas Zoo, and Kettle Moraine Equine Hospital joined forces. The team devised a plan that addressed anesthesia, surgery, and recovery. Modifications to the Giraffe Barn ensured a safe environment for immobilization. The entire procedure, including anesthesia, took approximately two hours. Kendi is recovering well and is expected to make a full recovery.

Kendi, a 4-year-old male reticulated giraffe at the Milwaukee County Zoo, has made history by successfully undergoing a groundbreaking surgery for a unique breeding injury.

Kendi sustained the injury while attempting to breed with Maya, a 6-year-old female.

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The zoo’s animal care team discovered Kendi’s injury, a lacerated and infected prepuce, on April 2.

According to the zoo, Kendi’s injury is believed to be the first of its kind in giraffes.

The zoo’s animal care team initially tried pain medication, antibiotics, and topical treatment to manage Kendi’s injury, but these methods were ineffective.

Anesthesia was necessary for a thorough assessment.

However, giraffe immobilizations pose significant challenges due to their large size and unique physiology.

Kendi, standing nearly 14 feet tall and weighing almost 2,000 pounds, required careful planning and expert coordination.

With reticulated giraffes listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List, this incident required particular attention.

The procedure, never before performed on a giraffe, required collaboration across multiple institutions and veterinary disciplines.

Veterinary specialists from institutions including the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, Henry Vilas Zoo, and Kettle Moraine Equine Hospital joined forces.

The team devised a plan that addressed anesthesia, surgery, and recovery. Modifications to the Giraffe Barn ensured a safe environment for immobilization.

The entire procedure, including anesthesia, took approximately two hours. Kendi is recovering well and is expected to make a full recovery.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.