10 Awe-Inspiring Animals With Prosthetics

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on February 20, 2013.

Over the past few years, countless animals with missing limbs have been given a second chance, thanks to revolutionary advances in animal prosthetics. Previously, wildlife that had suffered serious injury to a limb often ended up having it amputated — and the loss of more limbs often meant euthanizing them, explains Live Science.

New “creature-tailored” prosthetics and orthotics have changed such bleak scenarios. And prosthetics developed for animals are even helping scientists develop better devices for humans.

As Noel Fitzpatrick, a neuro-orthopedic veterinary surgeon based in the UK tells Live Science, “one small step for a dog” can in fact end up as “one giant leap for mankind.”

Here are ten animals that are living life to the fullest with their new prosthetics.

1. Yu the Sea Turtle

A 25-year-old loggerhead sea turtle, Yu, has received her 27th pair of prosthetic limbs. Five years ago, she was seriously wounded in a near-fatal shark attack that left her with almost half her flippers torn away, as well as bites all over her body.

Yu fled into a fisherman’s net, apparently for help. She was found after washing up on the southern island of Shishoku. An aquarium in Kobe, Japan, outfitted her with rubber and neoprene flippers. Now, Yu can swim again.

2. Chris P. Bacon the pig

Chris P. Bacon was born without the use of his back legs. While the little piglet’s name suggests a not very pleasant fate, he has been thriving, thanks to a wheelchair constructed for him by a U.S. vet.

3. Chhouk the elephant

An elephant now called Chhouk was found wandering in the forests of Cambodia in 2007. He was missing his left front foot, but a series of prosthetics has made him able to walk with ease again.

4. Zvika the turtle

After being accidentally run over by a lawnmower and suffering a fractured shell and spine, this Istaeli turtle was outfitted with wheels to help her move around while recovering.

5. Chrissy the sandhill crane

Necessity is the mother of invention, as Wired notes. Lee Fox of Sarasota-based Save Our Seabirds created prosthetics using PVC pipe and a sink stop for injured sandhill cranes.

The birds have large bodies but spindly legs, and they need both limbs to stay upright. After learning of prosthetist Kevin Carroll’s work with other birds, she asked him to look at the cranes she was helping. Carroll then made plaster casts of two of the sandhills’ legs for personalized prosthetics.

6. Peggy Leg the Chihuahua

Peggy, a Chihuahua from Albuquerque, was born without one back foot. She will soon be outfitted with a prosthesis the size of a human finger, which would make her the smallest animal in the U.S. to have such a device.

7. Molly the Shetland-Appaloosa pony

One of Molly’s legs was amputated after a pit bull attack. She has had a number of prosthetics –the first made from acrylic, aluminum and fiberglass. A recent device uses a novel procedure called osseointegration, in which the prosthetic is directly attached to what remains of the bone. Prosthetists are also exploring how to create devices that could be directly attached to the skin.

8. Winter the Dolphin

Winter lost her tail and two vertebrate after being caught in a crab trap. Prosthetists and engineers created “Winter’s gel,” described in Wired as “a rubbery sock made of thermoplastic elastomer.” A prosthetic tail is then placed over the gel, which irritates the skin less than other liners and has applications for humans with prosthetics, as a means to help the devices stay connected when surfaces become slick from perspiration.

9. Beauty the Bald Eagle

A bullet from a poacher shattered Beauty’s beak. She now has a prosthetic beak and can effectively feed herself.

10. Oscar the Cat

Oscar, who lost his back legs in a farm combine, was the first cat to get prosthetic legs. His new limbs were drilled into what remained of the bones of his old ones, a technique scientists are exploring to use in humans. Oscar now has to stay inside, as his legs aren’t suited for outdoor environments, but he does so on his own four limbs.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

207 comments

heather g
heather g24 days ago

It warms the heart to read about these procedures carried out by caring people.

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Mia B
Mia Babout a month ago

thanks for posting

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Shirley S
Shirley Sabout a month ago

Wonderful human inventions helping incapacitated animals to be able to live normal lives.

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hELEN h
hELEN hEARFIELDabout a month ago

tyfs

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Glennis W
Glennis Wabout a month ago

All so precious Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis Wabout a month ago

Lovely article Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis Wabout a month ago

They are wonderful Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis Wabout a month ago

All so adorable Thank you for caring and sharing

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Linda Wallace
Linda Wallaceabout a month ago

Good for those kind people. Thank you.

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Monica C
Monica Chongthamabout a month ago

Thanks

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