This retrospective case series describes the clinicopathologic findings, diagnoses, treatment, and outcomes of 10 hand-reared newborn giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) calves admitted to a university teaching hospital for intensive care. Ten calves (five males, five females; nine reticulated giraffes [Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata], one Masai giraffe [G. c. tippelskirchi]), were admitted under 2 days of age. Inadequate transfer of passive immunity was suspected in 5 of 10 calves based on assessment of serum total solids and globulin values. These calves were treated with oral frozen bovine colostrum and/or intravenous hyperimmune bovine plasma. Diarrhea occurred in 6 of 10 calves and was managed with supportive care, fecal microbiota transplantation, and limiting milk intake (offering 10% body weight [BW] in milk per day, while feeding <2 L per meal at 2- to 4-hr intervals). Less common diagnoses included pneumonia (n = 3) and mycoplasma-associated septic arthritis (n = 1). Eight calves received systemic antimicrobial therapy. Hyperlactatemia (lactate > 5 mmol/L; n = 8) and hypercreatininemia (creatinine > 2.0 mg/dl, n = 7) were the most common presenting laboratory abnormalities, which resolved with intravenous fluid therapy. All neonatal giraffes survived to discharge after a median hospitalization of 9.5 days (range, 5–37 days) and were successfully hand-reared at their place of birth. In conclusion, neonatal giraffe calves can be intensively managed in a hospital environment. Diarrhea was a common clinical problem and can be related to feeding regimens. Intravenous hyperimmune bovine plasma infusion was well tolerated to manage failure of transfer of passive immunity in calves with inadequate colostrum administration. The current study supports that compromised neonatal giraffe calves may carry an excellent prognosis after early, intensive intervention.
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