Bionic Animals: 10 Creatures Thriving with Prosthetics

Loss of limb isn’t keeping these ten (more!) diverse creatures, from sea turtles to llamas, from enjoying life to the fullest. Thanks to innovative prosthetic solutions, which can be incredibly expensive and complex or as simple as a caster and some epoxy adhesive, disabled animals are able to run, jump and swim.

Oscar the Cat

Oscar the cat lost his rear legs in a run-in with farming equipment while lazing in the sun, but today, it’s a distant memory thanks to biomedical engineering experts and a ne;uro-orthopedic surgeon. Working together, the team created two metal prosthetic implants that fused with the bone and skin. The peg-like implants move in a way that’s similar to a cat’s natural legs.

Midnite the Miniature Horse

Midnite the miniature horse was missing the hoof and coffin bone from his left rear leg when he was seized from neglectful owners and given to a Texas organization called Ranch Hand Rescue. A prosthetics company stepped up to work on the carbon graphite and Nyglass stockinette, and while Midnite’s caretakers were hopeful that he’d at least be able to walk, they never imagined how well he would take to it. Watch the video above to see Midnite’s reaction to his new leg.

Bella the Llama with a Cheetah-Print Leg

After her leg was amputated, Bella the llama was depressed and immobile, and in danger of being euthanized. Now she’s the only llama in the world with a cheetah-print leg. Injured a few years ago in a gopher hole incident, Bella now wears her prosthetic leg six to eight hours a day.

Josie the Chihuahua with Wheels

While wheels may not give dogs the mobility that they crave, these little wheelchair-like prosthetics can be a big help to animals that previously couldn’t get around at all. Josie the chihuahua was born without front legs; now the wheels from a model airplane help her explore the world. Josie loves her new wheels so much that she yaps and growls when they’re removed.

Hoppa the Dog

Hoppa is another dog that was born without front legs, and is now mobile thanks to a wheeled prosthetic device. After four years of being unable to get around on his own, Hoppa can now go nearly anywhere.

Allison the Ninja-Suited Turtle

Allison is the world’s first sea turtle to use a successful prosthetic. When she was found, Allison was missing a flipper, so she could only swim in circles. The five-year-old turtle – who has a life expectancy of 150 years – is believed to have lost her flipper in a shark attack. While there wasn’t enough of her flipper left to attach a normal prosthesis, a team of scientists came up with a novel solution: a ‘ninja suit.’ The suit covers three-quarters of her body, acting as a rudder and giving her stability.

Naki’o the Dog with Four Prosthetic Feet

Poor Naki’o, a red-heeled cattle dog, was abandoned in a frozen puddle, and developed such severe frostbite that he lost all four of his feet. Veterinary surgeon Christie Tomlinson saw him at a Colorado rescue center, crawling around on his belly, and wondered whether he could ever be mobile again. After receiving revolutionary prosthetics from a company called Orthopets, Naki’o is making literal leaps and bounds as a playmate to Tomlinson’s golden retriever.

Gamera the Tortoise on Wheels

Gamera the 12-year-old African tortoise is back on his feet after vets from Washington State University gave him a shiny new swiveling wheel to replace a lost leg. While most prosthetics are very complex, this one was surprisingly easy: the vets headed to the hardware store, bought a few different types of caster wheels, and attached the best-fitting one to his shell with epoxy adhesive.

Mr. Stubbs the Alligator Gets a New Tail

After losing his tail in a fight, Mr. Stubbs was no longer able to swim. He was found among 32 alligators in the back of a truck in Arizona, and had likely been pitted against a much larger alligator when he was very young. But amazingly enough, the amputee alligator is now learning to walk and swim with a new appendage: a prosthetic tail that straps to his back legs and abdomen. The process of creating the prosthesis involved using infrared cameras to track the gator’s motion and balance so it would fit as perfectly as possible. As Mr. Stubbs continues to grow for the next 60 or so years of his life, he’ll need approximately 40 replacements.

Emma the Donkey

Emma the miniature donkey arrived at a veterinary teaching hospital at just two days old with a severe hind leg deformity that would require amputation. Fitting an animal of this size with a prosthesis that can hold up to their weight can be a challenge, but surgeons were able to design a prosthetic made of carbon fiber, Kevlar and fiberglass that’s flexible and adjustable to allow for growth and changes in Emma’s gait.

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