Baby Sulcata Tortoise Fitted For 3D Printed Legs After Fire Burns Them

July 13, 2017

A sulcata tortoise (Geochelone [Centrochelys] Sulcata) who lost her legs in an enclosure fire has been fitted for 3D printed legs in hopes that she will be able to walk again.

Bump was in her enclosure when her bedding started to smolder from a new bulb that caught some of the bedding on fire, according to WYDaily.

She had severe burns on all four of her legs as well as the plastron of her shell. Her owner, Thom Rohde, looked for an emergency animal hospital where they told the prognosis for Bump was not good. About a month later, Rohde took Bump to veterinarian Sean Sparkman at Noah’s Ark Veterinary Hospital in Norge, VA, who determined that the tortoise’s legs were largely dead from the accident.

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With the collective minds of Rohde, a carpenter, Dr. Sparkman, and a researcher from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and a team of specialists from the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation, a plan was set in motion to fit Bump with 3D printed prosthetic legs.

Three-D scans of what remained of Bump’s legs were taken and models were created and given to Dave Stanhope, field research manager with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, who will create the 3D prosthetics fitted to Bump’s dimensions.

“I’m positive we can make the legs,” Stanhope told WYDaily. “I don’t know how well they’ll work with the turtle [sic] itself. That’s more of my concern… the trick will be building something that doesn’t hinder the [turtle’s] movement.”

After Bump’s prosthetics are made, Sparkman will attempt to attach them to Bump, and is confident that they will work.

“I’m pretty optimistic we’ll have some kind of outcome,” Sparkman said. “The fact of the matter is, she’s doing well as she is.”

Rohde seems equally optimistic.

“She’s a sweetheart of a tortoise,” Rohde told WYDaily. “She’s very social. You pet her and she loves it. “She has a heart. She has a personality and she’s going to make it through this.”

Hopefully the 3D printed prosthetics help Bump get around better than how she is now, crawling on the bottom of her shell.

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