HOUSTON – Yao, a Masai giraffe born at the Houston Zoo on Feb. 25, is under treatment for a life-threatening bone infection, zoo officials said.
Yao was more than 6 feet tall and weighed 139 pounds at birth. The Houston Zoo’s giraffe keepers, who cared for Neema through her pregnancy, named the calf Yao in honor of former Houston Rockets player Yao Ming.
One week after his birth zoo keepers noticed he was favoring his rear left leg, which was initially believed to be the result of a minor sprain.
When the limp became worse zoo staff X-rayed the leg and found no evidence of bone damage so Yao was put on antibiotics and anti-inflammatory analgesics.
Then last weekend zoo staff noticed he was limping on his front leg. Additional doctors were called in and determined that Yao had developed a bone infection in his right shoulder. That’s when aggressive treatment began.
“Similar cases in domestic animals are difficult to treat and correct but we are doing everything possible to give him a chance to recover,” said Dr. Wyatt Winchell, with the Brazos Valley Equine Hospital. “He is being kept inside the giraffe barn with his mother Neema and receiving excellent round-the-clock care from his keepers and veterinarians.”
Houston Zoo Director Rick Barongi said Yao has quite an uphill battle ahead of him.
“We ask that everyone please keep Yao in their thoughts and prayers,” he said.