Penguin with Bumblefoot gets Custom Orthopedic Shoes


  • Even with a host of treatments, Lucas the penguin still had difficulty dealing with his balance because of his bumblefoot.
  • The San Diego Zoo asked for the assistance of a firm that designs and manufactures aids for special needs animals.
  • Lucas was outfitted with customized boots that balance and protect his foot, greatly improving his quality of life.

Bumblefoot in birds can cause several declines in foot conditions. Three years ago, a 4-year-old African penguin named Lucas had an infection in his spine. This made his left leg weak, disabling him from standing up on his toes.

To improve his spine’s state, the San Diego Zoo made him undergo several treatments: physical therapy, acupuncture, and pain medication.

Fortunately, a national organization, Thera-Paw, responded to the zoo’s call. They have been designing and manufacturing assistive and rehabilitative products for animals with special needs for years. Their solution was to create a customized boot that would protect Lucas’ feet.

Penguin With Bumblefoot Gets Custom Orthopedic Shoes
Photo Credit: Ken Bohn, San Diego Wildlife Zoo Alliance

The founder and president of Thera-Paw said, “This was such an amazing opportunity, and we were honored to be asked to assist the team at the San Diego Zoo.” She added that seeing their aids improve the lives of animals like Lucas provides them with the necessary inspiration and drive to continue everyday with their work.

Lucas’ life has dramatically improved with his custom-made boots helping him with his balance as he goes about his environment.

Penguin With Bumblefoot Gets Custom Orthopedic Shoes
Photo Credit: Ken Bohn, San Diego Wildlife Zoo Alliance

According to Debbie Denton, a senior wildlife care specialist at the San Diego Zoo, they were surprised at the quick change in Lucas because of his boots. “Seeing him move about now gives us hope that he may be OK going forward, and able to live a full life.”

Senior San Diego Zoo veterinarian, Dr. Beth Bicknese shared, “I’ve known Lucas for a long time, so having the ability to provide him with a chance to live a normal life brings a smile to my face.”

She added, “The boots are cushioned and velcroed in place, so they will help Lucas to participate in the colony fully and showcase behaviors that are more typical for a penguin — such as climbing the rocks, swimming, nesting, and finding a suitable mate.”

Keep on going, Lucas!

Source: People


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