National Zoo veterinarians treated a giraffe for a tumor on its head, in what the chief vet said was the first such case of skin cancer. The 13-foot (4-meter)-tall Jafari was back on his feet and in seeming good health in his habitat following the 45-minute procedure that involved 28 people. It is the first case of skin cancer reported among the tall, spotted creatures, chief veterinarian Suzan Murray said.
The medical team, which included a giraffe specialist from Florida and a physician from Children's Hospital, was only able to remove 90 percent of the tumor, so the animal's prognosis was "poor to guarded," Murray said.
Much of the medical procedure had never been attempted before, zoo officials said. Merely administering anesthesia to the animal was difficult because of its size and giraffes' tendency to regurgitate, which could choke him while unconscious.
Zoo staff had to rig a special padded ladder on which to rest Jafari's head, so they could lower it as the anesthesia took effect. Other personnel massaged Jafari's 6-foot (1.8-meter) neck to keep it from developing kinks during the surgery, reports the AP. I.L.
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