Giraffe Ailing With Arthritis, Put To Sleep



Earlier this week, a Maryland Zoo eutanized a giraffe suffering from arthritis. The said giraffe is 22-year old Gretchen – called ‘The Lady Of The House” – whose life was decided by the caretakers to end due to a fast moving arthritis.

Wow. Imagine a giraffe with arthritis?! The poor thing and her poor joints. It must have a very hard decision to make for her caretakers!

Gretchen was born at the Denver Zoo in May 1986, and had problems with her legs all her life. When she was little, she had shown bleeding wounds on three of her legs, which had been considered to be caused by her mother stepping on her, a common accident in the giraffe world.

Latter on, the caretakers had discovered that her hooves had been rotating inwards, instead of growing outwards, the way they were supposed to. Even though this condition made the animal feel uncomfortable, the Zoo staff’s efforts of periodically cutting her hooves had made her life a lot easier.

During the last years, however, Gretchen had begun suffering of arthritis, and had sometimes been in a great amount of pain. People at the Zoo had noticed that she was rarely leaving her barn on rainy days, and that her posture was starting to deteriorate. The caretakers have tried everything to cure the loved animal and ease its pain, but without success.

At least treatments have been tried! I don’t know how long a giraffe’s lifetime is….but 22 years for a giraffe might be pretty old.

Even though the decision was hard to make, the Zoo staff decided that it was better for Gretchen if she was euthanized. On Sunday, she was taken to a chute built for this occasion and was given a high dose of barbiturates. She died in her sleep.

Because of the condition that affected her hooves, ‘The Lady of the House’ had never been allowed to breed, for fear of passing the disorder to her children as well. However, the 4 giraffes that shared the same hill with her at the Maryland Zoo will most probably feel her absence in the days to come.

On Sunday, Gretchen died in her sleep after a high dose of barbiturates. I’m pretty sure she will be missed.

This story is not the first reported of animals suffering from arthritis. Most common are common house pets such as cats and dogs and are often related to the animal’s old age. Maybe was just extreme and worse with the giraffe’s case due to its unusually long extremities that must have taken toll on the giraffe’s joints. That must have been awful for the said giraffe!

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