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See Inside Scientific American Volume 308, Issue 3

An Amazing Menagerie of Animal Prostheses [Video]

animal prostheses,



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FUJI, THE DOLPHIN
Winter's not the first dolphin to receive a prosthesis—that distinction goes to Fuji, who had the end of her tail amputated after contracting a mysterious necrotic disease. Fuji, who lives in an aquarium in Japan, lost a much smaller portion of her tail—just her back fin—than Winter did, but she also struggled to adapt to her new body. So volunteers at tire-manufacturer Bridgestone came to the rescue, reportedly spending $83,000 to build Fuji a prosthetic fin made of rubber and carbon fiber.

MOTALA & MOSHA, THE ELEPHANTS
Motala and Mosha are Asian elephants who lost their legs after stepping on land mines along the Thailand–Burma border. The pachyderms ended up at the Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital in Lampang, Thailand, where Soraida Salwala spent years trying to build the animals brand new limbs. It’s not easy to build prosthetics for animals that weigh 2,700 kilograms—veterinarians and prosthetists had to invent a new technique just to take casts of the animals’ stumps—but today, both elephants are lumbering around on their new legs, made from a combination of plastic and metal. (The prosthetists fashioned the ankle joint out of parts from a car engine.) The elephants’ story is chronicled in the 2012 documentary, The Eyes of Thailand.

BEAUTY, THE BALD EAGLE
In 2005 a poacher shot Beauty in the face. The bullet destroyed most of the top half of her beak, leaving her unable to eat or groom herself. Beauty was rescued by Birds of Prey Northwest, and Nate Calvin, a mechanical engineer and the founder of the Kinetic Engineering Group, set out to make her a new upperbeak. Calvin made a mold of what remained of Beauty’s beak and then designed a prosthetic using a 3-D modeling software. He printed the beak, which was made of a nylon polymer, using a 3-D printer. With the prosthetic attached to her face, Beauty can now eat on her own.

TZVIKA, THE TURTLE
A run-in with a lawnmower left Tzvika with a broken shell and a damaged spine—and her back legs very weak. Veterinarians in Israel restored the female turtle’s mobility by attaching a set of wheels to the underside of her shell. The wheels also elevate Tzvika’s body, preventing her from dragging her legs and shell along the ground and sustaining further injury. A handful of other legless turtles have also been outfitted with wheels.

NAKI’O, THE DOG
When Naki’o was just his puppy, he got his paws stuck in a frozen puddle. All four frostbitten appendages were amputated. As the cattle dog grew up, it became increasingly difficult for him to move around on his stumps. Fortunately, OrthoPets, a Denver company that designs orthotic and prosthetic devices for companion animals, came to the rescue: It outfitted Naki’o with four artificial paws, reportedly making him the first dog to have four prosthetic limbs.

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