Rescued Alligator Fitted with First-of-its-kind Prosthetic Tail

Written by Stephen Messenger

If there appears to be a glint of gratitude in this gator’s generously-toothed grin, it just might be because he’s feeling whole once again.

When the 7-foot-long American alligator first came into the care of the Phoenix Herpetological Society (PHS), a group devoted to reptile conservation, it was clear that his young life was off to a bad start. Likely after a skirmish with a larger counterpart, the rescued gator found himself short a tail and in need of some assistance. Thankfully, PHS was able to provide help to the injured animal, and a new name: Mr. Stubbs.

“When we first got him, if the water was too deep for him to touch the bottom, he would roll over onto his back and could not right himself,”PHS President Russ Johnson says. “We had to teach him to swim by dog paddling, like you teach a child to swim.”

Despite his new canine-esque swimming ability, it soon became clear that Mr. Stubbs would never thrive without a tail. So, with that in mind, a team from the Center for Orthopedic Research and Education (CORE) was enlisted to help craft a prosthetic — the first of its kind in the world.

From Arizona’s CBS 5 News:

The CORE Institute created high-resolution molds of the alligator’s stump, as well as a full tail of appropriate size. The prosthesis was covered in Dragon Skin, a lightweight, flexible silicone material often used for special effects and animatronics in films, as well as prosthetics.

Next, a replica of the full tail was married to a mold of Mr. Stubbs’ posterior. The final step was creating a harness system to securely affix the new prosthetic tail to the alligator’s body without creating any pressure points that could cause discomfort or skin breakdown over time.

According to his rescuers, Mr. Stubbs seems to have taken to his new tail, though he still has some work to do.

“After almost eight years, we need to ‘unteach’ him the dog paddle so he can swim like a normal alligator,” says Johnson.

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.


Read more:

10 Awe-Inspiring Animals With Prosthetics



Allison Ware
Allison Ware3 years ago

Yay for the alligator! :)

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago


Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener4 years ago

If it makes mr. Stubbs happy... it should make us all happy!

Bronwyn S.
Past Member 4 years ago

Whatever, Diane....

Diane L.
Diane L4 years ago

Bronwyn, I've done my best to ignore your attempts to "bait" me and your need to argue, but seriously, have you actually checked out what the word "troll" means? You might look in the mirror. It is actually amusing that you find what Katherine W says as supportive of your opinions. Katherine is obviously passionate about animals, but also obviously misguided in many ways and definitely is clueless about what a troll is, although she accuses anyone she disagrees with of being one, and has for a very long time.

Bronwyn S.
Past Member 4 years ago

Katherine w, you are absolutely right about the trolls and I should know better.
Although it can be fun to poke them with a pointy stick sometimes.

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright4 years ago

Bronwyn, I have learned not to feed the trolls.....................been there, tried that and wasted my time and energy that I'll never get back.

As Ernie posted.............."I found it an interesting article how an animal was allowed to survive in his habitat."

Nuff said.......................

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

Ernie, Phoenix, Arizona is hardly the natural habitat for a 7' gator. If Stubbs had his tail cut off by an altercation with another gator, which is what is surmised here, then it was a natural occurrence and humans shouldn't even intervene in the first place. If you watch any documentaries on Nat. Geo or Discovery or Animal Planet, they sometimes show very heartbreaking situations where you wonder WHY the camera people didn't step in to save the animal, but it's been clearly stated that they cannot, by LAW. If an animal is injured because of human activity, they CAN, but otherwise, no matter how much they WANT to, they simply can't. If you watched "The Last Lions" (narrated by Jeremy Irons), you were brought to TEARS when the 2nd cub of Mah di Tau was crawling along by pulling herself by her front legs only. You wondered why the filmmakers didn't run in to take her to a vet, but they had to film it and nothing else since she had been stomped by cape buffalo, not vehicles. They had to watch, helplessly as their mother finally left her (a broken back).

Ernie Miller
william M5 years ago

can we ask for a little Love people it is OK to disagree with an article or a persons opinion however going on and on back and forth is not healthy and is really not in the mission of Care2 I found it an interesting article how an animal was allowed to survive in his habitat