When an animal control officer found Zoop on a cold morning in Denville, New Jersey, the tiny goat could not walk upright or even stand comfortably. Weighing only six pounds and walking on her knees when she was found, Zoop proved herself just about as helpless as any animal can be. The little goat desperately needed help, and she knew it.
Thankfully, the officer was moved by Zoop’s plight. She lifted her up off the ground and transported her immediately to a nearby animal hospital. There, Zoop received a brace for one of her damaged legs and underwent surgery to repair the other. She lived happily at the clinic for six months, but her rescuer knew that couldn’t last forever. Zoop needed to be around other goats.
Our New York Shelter welcomed Zoop with open arms. She fit in with the other goats here right away and became especially close with a goat named Juniper. The two have bonded and are truly inseparable, perhaps because both have struggled with leg problems. They seem to gain strength and encouragement from each other and share a spirit of energizing playfulness that other shelter residents and Farm Sanctuary staff can only envy and admire.
Unfortunately, shortly after Zoop arrived at Farm Sanctuary, caregivers found that she was not healing as well as they expected. Doctors at Cornell University’s Animal Hospital determined that one of her legs was damaged to such a degree that it could not be saved. Thus, they were forced to amputate the limb below the knee. After the surgery, she was fitted for a prosthetic leg much like the artificial leg her friend Juniper wears. Zoop remained happy and active in spite of the loss of her leg, but her prosthetic limb never functioned as well as we hoped it would. In fact, the new limb seemed at times to be more of a hindrance to Zoop than a help.
Hoping to improve her mobility, we brought Zoop back to Cornell in July of 2003. Upon reexamining her leg, doctors determined that the knee joint was fusing in an unexpected way and completely unable to bend, thus causing her leg to heal at a strange angle. This awkward angle, they surmised, was keeping her prosthetic limb from functioning properly. After careful consideration, the decision was made to amputate Zoop’s knee joint. This was the very best decision we could have made for Zoop, because by that time she had begun to wear the leg so infrequently that her muscles were beginning to atrophy. We knew we had to do whatever we could to ensure that Zoop kept her leg active and redeveloped her musculature.
After a very successful surgery, Zoop returned to Farm Sanctuary to heal. Caregivers and volunteers treated her like royalty when she arrived back home. They spoiled her with sweet feed, rich hay and lots of extra kisses. She was even taken on special walks around the hospital three to four times each day. Once Zoop’s leg healed completely, she was cast for a new prosthesis. With her new leg, her mobility has increased dramatically and her spirits are higher than ever. Now she is walking and running as proud as you please — and even the most ambitious in our goat herd have trouble keeping up.