Once-Injured Tortoise On A Roll

PetMD Editorial
Updated: February 10, 2016
Published: July 27, 2011
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In Japanese Culture, Gamera is the name of a flying mutant turtle with fangs who rises from the sea and breathes fire. At Washington State University, a Gamera of their own is casting a significantly smaller shadow over the sidewalks of the campus.

Unable to breathe fire, or in this case withstand it, the 12-year old African spur-thighed tortoise was suffering from a badly burned front left leg when he was turned over to the university’s vet school for treatment. The injury was life threatening, forcing the veterinarians to amputate. And then technology happened.

A prosthetic limb was introduced, but it turned out to be anything but high-tech. Rather, it was an object available at the local hardware store for a cost of $7; a caster you would normally find on the leg of a sofa or table, which was epoxied to Gamera’s shell. "We got several sizes to find the right height," Dr. Nickol Finch, a WSU specialist in exotic animals, told the Associated Press.

For Gamera, it’s the first day of the rest of his life. Months after the surgery his mobility and eating habits have all returned to normal, despite the lost limb.

"Nobody knew what we were going to be able to do with him, with burns as severe as what he had, " said Dr. Finch. "To see him now, doing fantastic and eating like a little pig, does a whole lot of good for the heart."

Image: Henry Moore, Jr / Washington State University

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