Dr. Holly Haefele, director of animal health, has seen just about every Fossil Rim species with hooves require assistance from the staff at some point during her time at the wildlife center. For International Hoof Care Month, the veterinarian wanted to share her thoughts on the importance of hoof care, as well as some interesting photos from past procedures.
Hoof care is one element of a comprehensive preventive medicine plan for Fossil Rim’s ungulates – hooved animals including rhinos, equids, pigs, antelope, giraffes, and deer. Luckily, most animals are able to take good care of themselves.
Fossil Rim’s big spaces allow for enough movement to wear hooves naturally. However, some species and individuals need a bit more help, and that is when our animal care and animal health teams get involved.
When a very large animal is the patient, or an animal that needs more sophisticated care, professional farriers are called upon. We have been lucky to work with a few excellent and generous farriers over the years, donating their time and care to some interesting patients, including giraffes, rhinos, roan antelope, Grevy’s zebras, Hartmann’s mountain zebras, and Przewalski’s horses. In fact, all of those species except roan have had to wear shoes of some sort over the years.
When our Children’s Animal Center goats need routine hoof trimming, usually twice a year, it is a pretty simple procedure. Grab a goat, pick up a foot, and trim. If it is one of our African antelope, or really just about any other species than domestic goats, anesthetic drugs are needed to immobilize and sedate the animal before any hoof work can begin.