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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 February 2004, 16:40 GMT
Key-hole surgery saves giraffe
Sapphire the giraffe
Vets considered putting Sapphire down
Pioneering key-hole surgery has saved the life of a female giraffe at Edinburgh Zoo.

Sapphire the giraffe made "a rapid and good recovery" after the operation, said a vet who works at the zoo.

The animal stopped eating last October and an x-ray revealed a fracture in her lower jaw bone.

Veterinary surgeon Paddy Dixon, from the University of Edinburgh's Royal School of Veterinary Studies, performed the operation.

He used a key-hole surgery procedure developed for horses but never before tried on a giraffe.

Before Mr Dixon was consulted, vets briefly considered putting Sapphire down because the severity of the break made it impossible for her to eat.

She started eating the day after the surgery in November and in January a second operation took place to remove the wiring that had been placed in her mouth.

The zoo's leading vet Anna Meredith said: "We are very grateful to Professor Dixon and his expert assistance with the surgery on Sapphire, and absolutely delighted that she made such a rapid and good recovery."

The BBC's John Morrison
"It seemed that nothing could be done to save her"

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