Wry Face – Incredible Survival of Giraffe with Malformed Face

Giraffe with Wry Face Congenital Defect Survives to adulthood!

Wry Face or Wry Nose is a congenital condition (birth defect) which affects certain species of animals, and is most obvious in species with long faces, such as horses and cattle. The condition is normally associated with a cleft palate, which makes suckling a huge challenge for the new-born animal. Depending on the severity of the malformation (slight <5° to severe >60°) lateral deviation, many animals do not make it to adulthood.

It is common for animals born with this condition to have the upper jaw and nose deviated to one side, usually causing the nasal septum (the cartilage plate that separates the right and left nasal passageways) to be deviated as well. This can result in breathing difficulties due to obstruction of the airway. Wry nose is most obvious in species with long faces, such as horses and cattle.

An animal with Wry Face / Wry Nose may have poor alignment (malocclusion) of the teeth and may have difficulty taking food up into their mouth and chewing food, which can lead to uneven wearing of the cheek teeth. Obviously, this could also lead to the animal becoming emaciated and dying. The chances of survival are better once they pass the suckling stage, as animals are incredible resourceful; and their ability to adapt in order to survive is impressive.

It is rare for a wild animal with Wry Face to survive to adulthood. The giraffe pictured here, was spotted and photographed in South Africa’s Kruger National Park by Adele Sneyd, in October 2020, near Shingwedzi.  According to Sneyd the animal seems healthy and well-adapted to her condition.

On the left, the Giraffe spotted in October 2020. On the Right, the skull of a Horse with congenital Wry Face clearly shows the extent of the deviation.

You have to admire the tenacity and sheer will to survive visible in wild animals with this deformity, against all odds. Nature will find a way to look after her own.

Written by CJ Carrington ©Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation

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