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The Animal Science Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about scientific and technological topics related to pets, livestock, and other animals. See how cutting-edge advances help - or hinder - species around the world.

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Animals Adapt to Artificial Limbs

Posted April 06, 2011 12:01 AM by SavvyExacta

Artificial limbs have been available for humans for years. A combination of science and creativity has also helped animals find replacements for legs and other appendages that they have lost.

Molly

One of the first such animals I read about is Molly, a pony that was rescued after Hurricane Katrina. Despite being rescued, she was attacked by a pit bull. The attack severed the tendons and arteries to the hoof. The cannon bone (lower leg bone) was destroyed and the hoof died and fell off, resulting in the amputation of her right foreleg. Molly was fitted for a prosthetic leg and hoof since she was an agreeable and tolerable pony, and a smiley face was embossed on the bottom of her artificial hoof.

A foundation was created to represent Molly and she began touring hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and army bases. She helped inspire those with artificial limbs and a book, Molly the Pony, was written about her.

Beauty

An eagle named Beauty was fitted with a prosthetic beak after being found in a

landfill. The upper portion of Beauty's beak had been shot off by a hunter in 2005, leaving her unable to eat or drink on her own. Only 10% of her beak remained and her sinuses and tongue were exposed.

Kinetic Engineering Group created a 3D model using a dental impression of her stump. Next, a laser fused the prosthetic beak together. The prosthesis was attached to a titanium and gold mount which was placed on Beauty's stump.

In 2011, her Boise, ID rehabilitation facility reported that Beauty's upper beak has begun to grow back. The prosthesis has been removed and the bird can now feed herself.

Canine Prosthesis Stories

There are numerous stories of dogs with prosthetic limbs - paws, legs, and even miniature "wheelchairs" help dogs maneuver after incidents ranging from car accidents to cancer. Cats, too, receive prosthetic limbs after trauma.

Other Animals

The website WebEcoist shares several stories of more exotic animals with prosthetics:

  • Yu Chan - a turtle that received artificial flippers
  • Winter - a dolphin that received an artificial tail
  • Chhouk - an elephant with a prosthetic foot

Resources:

http://mollythepony.com/ [image]

http://www.wildhorserescue.org/molly.htm

http://gizmodo.com/#!5014550/bald-eagle-gets-prosthetic-beak-much-like-uncle-sams-bionic-plasma-arm [image]

http://gizmodo.com/#!387262/eagle-with-prosthetic-beak-will-be-better-stronger-faster [image]

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/prosthetics/4274626

http://www.adn.com/2011/03/03/1734637/video-aleutians-eagle-with-prosthetic.html

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#1

Re: Animals Adapt to Artificial Limbs

04/06/2011 7:53 PM

As long as the research/development and 100% of all costs associated with this are privately funded, go for it, make the critters comfy. I would not be happy to learn that a single cent of taxpayer money is going into this.

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Guru
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#2

Re: Animals Adapt to Artificial Limbs

04/07/2011 4:08 AM

Excellent, it's a good way to experiment with new and novel techniques without the risk of being sued.
Mind some of those birds of prey can be a bit letigious.
Del

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