We’re focusing on some of our ungulate stock’s neat feet today, as we mark International Hoof Care Week.
Trainee Keeper, Josh Luxton applies the tar to Brazilian tapir, Meena as part of her regular foot care check
Just like horses, some of the zoo’s animals, from giraffes to the goats on the farm, require regular foot care to keep their hooves looking trim and tidy.
Ungulates Section Leader, Jay Haywood, said: “We constantly monitor the hooves of our animals as part of our regular health checks so that they don’t get overgrown.
“We use different care methods for different species. The likes of the farm’s alpaca and goats are trimmed with cutters a few times a year, while the Brazilian tapirs are treated to regular manicures and reindeer and Barbary sheep herds have their hooves trimmed twice a year, usually before and after breeding season.
“And our giraffes have similar hooves to horses which grow constantly, but because we can’t physically go in with our three, the thick layer of gravel on the ground in their paddock helps wear down their hooves naturally.”
As well as the usual oversized nail clipping tools, keepers regularly use a black tar substance on the hooves of the tapirs, reindeer and sheep which acts as a traditional antiseptic.
Jay added: “It’s the same stuff which is used on horses and keeps their feet in a good condition and heals any cracks.
“Although it whiffs a bit to us, the animals don’t mind it at all and the tapirs quite enjoy the extra hands-on fuss!”