March 2014 Listserv post - Giraffe behavior or medical issue
We have a giraffe here at the Zoo that has a very odd behavior of hitting his lateral thigh with his head. He always swings his head to the left and he actually has a callus above his eye where presumably the impact is located. He also has alopecia on his flank/lateral thigh where the impact of his head hits. He has done this intermittently for the past year and a half, we thought the behavior was decreasing over the fall but now it seems to be more frequent as of December. I was hoping to get a few opinions of possible etiology, or see if anyone else has seen similar behavior in giraffes. If you have time please check out the video linked below and share your thoughts. CBC/chem/vitamin E/selenium trace minerals including zinc seem to be adequate. Ear cytology shows increased bacteria and yeast in the right ear (left ear cytology was unremarkable), but he always swings his head to the left. My primary rule outs are behavioral/ or possible dental issues. Bruxism is noted around the time of the head swinging.
Thank you in advance!
Heather C. Miller DVM, MS
Deputy Administrator for Animal Health | Greenville Zoo
firstname.lastname@example.org | www.greenvillezoo.com