Baby Giraffe At OKC Zoo To Undergo Heart Surgery

Friday, April 4th 2014, 7:26 pm
By: News 9

A giraffe at the Oklahoma City Zoo is getting ready for a major surgery that comes with a big risk.

Kyah is six months old and was born with a heart defect that constricts her esophagus, which makes it almost impossible for her to eat.

Surgeons at Oklahoma State University's Center for Veterinary Health Sciences will perform the surgery early next week. The zoo's associate veterinarian, Gretchen Cole, explained that if Kyah cannot eat enough, she will not grow properly.

"If we leave her without correcting the condition, then she has zero chance of survival," said Cole

Transporting Kyah up I-35 will be difficult. The Zoo is currently building a hospital to perform similar surgeries on-site in the future. Visitors will actually be able to see veterinary procedures, like Kyah's.

"We do need to open her chest cavity to access the area that has the problem. Once that is open, it's actually fairly straight forward where they need to go," said Cole.

The surgery is not out of the ordinary for small animals like dogs, however performing it on a giraffe increases the risks. Still, the staff is doing all it can to fix Kyah and give her a chance at life.

"When she comes back from the procedure it's going to be a strong source of comfort for her. It's going to be something very important for her to have."

The zoo plans to open their new veterinary hospital later this year.