Nothing Normal About Zoo Work

Working on the feet of wild animals is not only gratifying, but also very challenging and educational

Steve Foxworth works on about a dozen species of animals at the Denver Zoo in a year’s time, including this lesser kudu. He finds it often takes as long as 2 years to get an animal’s feet in good shape while adjusting to a new environment.

How would you like to handle the health care needs of animals that only get trimmed twice a year? Be part of an 8- to 10-person crew that has only 25 minutes to meet the health care needs once an animal is sedated? And have to trim the feet while the animals are lying down?

Those are Steve Foxworth’s duties as the farrier for the Denver Zoo. As you might guess, zoo work makes up only a small amount of the total business for the Berthoud, Colo., shoer, who specializes in dealing with equine lameness issues on more normal workdays.

Foxworth works closely with two Denver Zoo vets. Scott Larsen is the zoo’s vice president for veterinary medicine and Diana Boon is an associate veterinarian.

Founded in 1896, the Denver Zoo sits on 80 acres within the 330-acre City Park of Denver. It includes 3,700 animals from 641 species.

Trimming as few as three animals often requires a full day of work at the zoo. Yet in a year’s time, Foxworth will work with a dozen species of animals.

“There’s a lesser kudu I trim every time I go to the zoo,” says Foxworth. “If some animals aren’t trimmed often enough, they end up…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has spent more than 50 years in the agricultural and equine publishing business. The sixth generation member to live on the family’s Centennial farm in Michigan, he is the Editor/Publisher of American Farriers Journal.

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