When Gamera the tortoise (GAMERAAAA!) had to have one of his front legs amputated due to burn damage, his short-lived human friends at Washington State University were looking around, thinking to themselves “What the hell do we have around here that we could use for a prosthetic turtle leg?” And they came up with… a swivel wheel from an office chair. Well it’s not like the leg needs to be a finely tuned machine like it’s a gazelle. A chair wheel does fine.
The tortoise was relinquished by its owner on April 20 because the animal’s leg had suffered a severe thermal injury and tissue damage from an unknown source. The veterinarian making the initial diagnosis referred the tortoise and its ownership to WSU’s veterinary teaching hospital for definitive care. In this case, the injury was life-threatening so the decision to amputate was made.
Subsequent surgery by Dr. Courtney Watkins, a final year surgery resident, and Dr. Nickol Finch, head of WSU’s Exotic Animal Service required that the limb be amputated at the shoulder and, as a precaution, that a temporary feeding tube be surgically implanted.
To help the animal ambulate after the surgery, a small swiveling ball-type caster was attached to its shell with an epoxy adhesive. The animal took to his new prosthetic quickly with little encouragement and ambulates well on most surfaces.
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