Part five of a series documenting the treatment of Goody, one of the Sacramento Zoo’s Reticulated Giraffes.
In addition to her daily care, zookeepers and veterinarians have been providing Goody, the Zoo’s 18-year-old Reticulated Giraffe, treatments for arthritis and a chronic joint abnormality in her front left fetlock (ankle).
Goody has been wearing a specialized boot with a metal shoe support inside and a fetlock brace to help support her joints and the rotation of her foot caused by arthritis. In addition, she can now be seen intermittently sporting a custom anklet. This anklet, made by one of the Zoo’s horticulturists who has a special knack for sewing, includes a HOBO data logger, similar to an activity tracker people wear.
At the Sacramento Zoo we are employing science to better care for Goody and the other giraffes based on information provided by the ankle monitors. The HOBO is a data logger with a three-axis accelerometer. The accelerometer technology in this device shows when a giraffe is standing up versus lying down. It is the same technology utilized in smart phones that changes the view from portrait to landscape mode when you tilt your phone.
Goody’s sister, Skye, is also wearing an anklet. During data collection and analysis, Skye will be used as the baseline of “normal” to better compare Goody’s activity data. We will then be able to track how Goody’s activity compares to Skye’s on a regular day, on a day Goody receives various treatments, when a boot adjustment is made, and so forth. We will also be able to track when and if their activity levels drop or increase depending upon the weather or other environmental changes.
Goody can’t verbally tell us when something makes her feel better, worse, or has no affect at all. Instead zookeepers and veterinarians continue to monitor how she walks or stands and whether or not she appears more comfortable or in more pain than previous days. By observing these, and other, behaviors we can better understand Goody’s overall wellbeing. We are excited that the HOBO data logger will record her activity and provide information that we can look back on to better understand the treatments that are helping Goody the most.
Along with helping us with Goody, the data collected from her and Skye will be added to data that the Brookfield Zoo is already collecting, using the same methods, to better understand the activity of their giraffes. All of that data in turn will be shared with other zoos to aide overall giraffe caregiving.