Related Posts with Thumbnails

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Oklahoma Zebra with Foot Infection Loses the Battle

This video is a window on the earlier treatment of Zephra, a Grevy's zebra with a serious hoof infection at the Oklahoma City Zoo; video courtesy of The Oklahoman. The video may take a little while to load. (sorry about the ad)

For quite a while now, I've been following the travails of a Grevy's zebra at the Oklahoma City Zoo. Zephra has reportedly been treated for laminitis for the past three months or so. Carrie Coppernoll, a journalist with the local newspaper, the Oklahoman, was willing to share her report and the paper also has a video, which details treatment of an abscess or infection.

Carrie's reports have been beautifully illustrated with photos by the Oklahoman's photographer, Paul Hellstern. 

Today Carrie Coppernoll shared the outcome of the case.

Sadly, Zephra didn't survive her foot problem. Carrie has kindly shared some of her report, which appeared in The Oklahoman today. Carrie attributes her information to Jennifer D'Agostinodirector of veterinarian services at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

Dee Corley (left), Zoo Equine Podiatrist, Animal Keeper Brian Whitsitt, and Senior Veterinarian Jennifer D'Agostino attempt to take an X-ray, as work is done to treat an abscessed hoof on "Zephra", a Grevy's zebra at the Oklahoma City Zoo  on Tuesday, October 25, 2011. By Paul Hellstern, © The Oklahoman

In August, Zephra was diagnosed in August with laminitis of unknown origin. According to D'Agostino, the zebra's pain was temporarily relieved when the zoo's farrier applied a shoe to the hoof.

Carrier writes: "But Zephra began to limp again, and a more extensive exam revealed a painful abscess. She was immobilized several times so experts from throughout the state could help treat her. Because Grevy's zebras are wild and aggressive, Zephra had to be anesthetized for each treatment.

A bird's eye view of work done to treat an abscessed hoof on "Zephra", a Grevy's zebra at the Oklahoma City Zoo on October 25, 2011. By Paul Hellstern, © The Oklahoman

'Despite treatment, her pain and the infection wouldn't go away,' D'Agostino said. 'The tip of the bone inside her hoof was dying. The only solution was surgery'."

Henry Jann, an equine surgeon from Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, performed the surgery November 10. 

According to Coppernoll's report, the surgeon created an opening into the sole of the zebra's hoof, removed the dead bone, packed it with antibiotics and wrapped it in a hard cast.

Senior Veterinarian Jennifer D'Agostino (right) and Dee Corley, Zoo Equine Podiatrist, work to treat an abscessed hoof on "Zephra", a Grevy's zebra at the Oklahoma City Zoo on October 25, 2011. Photo by Paul Hellstern, © The Oklahoman
Coppernoll continues: "Zephra showed a lot of promise for the next week, D'Agostino said. 'She was doing great, She was walking without hardly any limp.'

However, Coppernoll reported, Zephra quickly deteriorated. She wrote "The infection got worse and her foot began separating from the hoof. Zoo officials cleaned her and gave her another day. 

"But when they unwrapped the bandages on November 23, they knew the problem was too much for her to overcome."

D'Agostino said. 'As soon as we took the bandage off,' she said, 'we knew'.”

Zephra was euthanized.

In this video, a zoo zebra in Tokyo paws a steel plate.

Coppernoll continues: "Zephra's body has been donated to Skulls Unlimited. Her bones will either end up on display at the Museum of Osteology or become part of an educational exhibit, D'Agostino said.

She quoted the veterinarian: “The whole time we thought it was all going to be fine. The infection got the better of her,” she said. “We knew that this was the road it could go down.”

Dr. Jennifer D’Agostino, senior veterinarian for the Oklahoma City Zoo, looks at an X-ray, as an abscessed hoof is treated on Zephra at the Oklahoma City Zoo. Photo by Paul Hellstern, ©The Oklahoman Archives

Many zoo animals receive infrequent hoofcare services because of restraint issues and the danger involved. Some zoos have elaborate training projects to improve the quality and frequency of their hoof trimming for the animals.

Another encouraging post script to the Oklahoma story is that many of the glue-on and strap-on products used on horses have been adapted for zoo animals so that their hooves can be supported or stabilized with minimal trauma. In the past, it was difficult to figure out how to apply a brace, for example, that could be used on zoo animals.

Shoot big game...with hoof adhesives.
Vettec adhesive and supportive urethane-based products have been used quite a bit in zoos, as have PMMA adhesive products, I know, and I would imagine that casting tape would come in handy.

Will hoof boots in sizes and shapes to fit exotic animals be the next thing on our new products page?

In the months to come, Hoofcare + Lameness will be exploring some of the advances in zoo husbandry and medicine. I look forward to seeing the first business card reading "Equine and Exotic Podiatry Services"!

If you have photos or experiences or opinions or innovations to share, please contact Fran Jurga.

Hoofcare Publishing thanks Carrie Coppernoll, Paul Hellstern and The Oklahoman for their excellent reporting and their assistance with this report.


Read the full newspaper article about the zebra's earlier treatment in Oklahoma City, with additional photos.
Read Carrie Coppernoll's full article about the zebra's final prognosis during the week of Thanksgiving, published November 29.
Association of Zoos and Aquariums
Read The Rhino With the Glue-On Shoes by Lucy Spelman DVM to learn how the Forging Ahead farrier practice in Virginia sent an unflinching Randy Pawlak to help Mohan, a 5000-pound rhinocerous, with the tools he uses for sport horses.

Click on the photo to learn more and order your poster.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site,, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to  
Follow Hoofcare + Lameness on Twitter: @HoofcareJournal
Read this blog's headlines on the Hoofcare + Lameness Facebook Page
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any direct compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned, other than Hoofcare Publishing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


Anonymous said...

So what exactly is an "equine podiatrist"? There is a farrier and a veterinarian and a surgeon, but what is the role and qualifications of a podiatrist?

Travis Morgan said...

Birkenstocks, cards printed on hemp, and a Strasser T-shirt.