Washington National zoo veterinarians treated a giraffe Wednesday for a tumor on its head, in what the chief vet said was the first such case of skin cancer.
The 13-foot-tall Jafari was back on his feet and in seemingly 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.
"It's a poorer prognosis than we had hoped for," Murray said. "The cancer appears to have infiltrated the bone."
Jafari is being treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics, and veterinarians are discussing a chemotherapy regimen, officials said. But Murray said that even if Jafari doesn't survive his cancer, the process of diagnosing and treating the condition will have taught veterinarians a lot about caring for giraffes.