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Tulsa Zoo's New Giraffe Arrives With A Neck Injury

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Zoo veterinarians aren't exactly sure what caused Amali's crooked neck. [photo: Tulsa Zoo] Zoo veterinarians aren't exactly sure what caused Amali's crooked neck. [photo: Tulsa Zoo]
"The giraffe is... she's functioning normally. She's walking around normally. She's eating, drinking, interacting with the other animals," said Dr. Kay Backues. "The giraffe is... she's functioning normally. She's walking around normally. She's eating, drinking, interacting with the other animals," said Dr. Kay Backues.

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A twist of fate could thwart the Tulsa Zoo's plans to increase an exotic herd. America's favorite zoo purchased a female giraffe for breeding, but it arrived with a surprising injury. 

The tallest animal on land is always a crowd pleaser. After the Tulsa Zoo's female giraffe died last year, Sam was all that was left. 

The zoo recently bought two more, both females, hoping for babies. But when five-year-old, Amali, walked off the trailer, they knew they had a problem.

"Right away we noticed that there was a misalignment, that she had a crick in her neck," said Terrie Correll, Tulsa Zoo Director.

It looks like a serious case of whiplash, but zoo veterinarians aren't exactly sure what caused Amali's crooked neck.

"We know it somehow happened in transport. We don't know what happened. The transport driver reported no incidents to how the animal injured itself. So, no, we don't know," said Dr Kay Backues, Tulsa Zoo veterinarian.

While crooked neck giraffes aren't common, they're not unheard of. 

A giraffe named Gemina helped put the Santa Barbara Zoo on the map. Folks came from all over the country to see her unusual attributes. She lived for 21 years with her crooked neck and died from old age.

Back in Tulsa, Dr. Backues says they need x-rays to determine if Amali's neck is broken. But for now, she doesn't appear to be in pain.

"The giraffe is... she's functioning normally. She's walking around normally. She's eating, drinking, interacting with the other animals," said Dr. Kay Backues.

The zoo's other new giraffe, Amira, is healthy and on display. But there will be no rubber-necking of young Amali, until she's diagnosed and treated.

"She has been introduced with Amira. They both get along quite well. We just don't want her outside at the moment," said Karen Dunn, Zoo Curator.

Veterinarians say it's too early for a prognosis and treatment is tricky because Amali wouldn't be able to be immobile long enough to recover from major surgery.

11/23/2009  Related Story: Tulsa Zoo's Newest Residents Settle In

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