Getting aches and pains as you get older can be a problem when you have the longest limbs in the animal kingdom.
Behansin, a ten-year-old giraffe, needed some high-tec physio after rangers noticed that he suffered from a sore shoulder and was slightly lame on his left foreleg. They decided to investigate and enlist the help of animal physio specialists.
Experts were called into the award-winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park to look at the causes of Behansin’s lameness which are believed to be age related illness as well as arthritis. He is now responding well to monthly physio sessions and treatment for his shoulder.
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A team of equine chiropractors use state of the art laser therapy machines, normally used to help racehorses maintain peak condition, to treat the giraffe who is rather taller than a racehorse.
“As in people as they get older, physio problems are fairly common in older giraffes,” said Simon Marsh, animal collection manager at the renowned park at Branton, in Doncaster.
“Giraffes can weigh up to a tonne so that is a lot of weight on their frame. Behansin has some slight shoulder problems and the monthly physio sessions will help.
“He loves the attention and always has a very calm, relaxed look when the session is over. It is part of the regular husbandry we have for all our animals. We want them in the best shape possible.”
The low-level laser therapy is used to treat and soften the muscles to allow Behansin to move more freely and take longer strides. He also gets regular treatment with an Equissage Pulse massage machine that stimulates soft tissue, increases blood flow through the muscle and improves joint mobility.
Behansin has been trained to position himself next to the keepers so they can provide ten minutes massage on his left shoulder and five minutes on the right.
Although Equissage Pulse has never been used on a Giraffe before, Behansin’s reaction to the massage treatment was positive as he leaned into the vibration and signalised his enjoyment during his first 20 minute session.
Victoria Archer, Equissage UK National Manager, explained: “The equine world is very aware of the Equissage Pulse and its huge benefits to the horses.
“We were thrilled to help Behansin and to assist in his pain relief through our massage therapy.
“The giraffe soon realised that we were helping him and noted a marked difference in his range of movement after his first therapy session.”
“With the initial success of equine treatment measures, the physio specialists and YWP team are confident that Behansin is on the road to recovery.”