Orthopedic solutions aren’t only provided for humans; animals struggling with problems with their muscles, bones, and joints are also given this treatment. Recently, a penguin from San Diego Zoo received orthopedic footwear to enjoy walking again. According to reports, the penguin had to be provided with orthopedic footwear due to bumblefoot. This medical condition is also called ulcerative pododermatitis.
When penguins develop bumblefoot, their footpads are severely blistered and inflamed. The biggest concern about bumblefoot is that it could result in chronic lameness or septicemia if not treated. It will highly affect the penguin’s ability to walk, it can ruin posture, and it may lead to a sedentary life. Bumblefoot is said to result from physical inactivity and disproportionate weight gain, and the condition just takes away happy feet from the penguins.
Thankfully, the San Diego Zoo provided hope for Lucas in the form of orthopedic boots. Based on the staff’s interviews, Lucas’s condition began with a spinal infection that affected his leg muscles, causing him to have difficulty standing up. The veterinarians at the zoo gave him treatments such as pain relievers, physical therapy, and acupuncture. However, it didn’t make much difference — the poor penguin still suffered.
So the zoo had to opt for a more advanced solution; they consulted Thera-Paw. With the company’s help, a customized orthopedic boot was made available for Lucas.
“Since we’ve been able to put the shoes on him, he’s shown a much more normal gait walking on flat surfaces. Because of the way the shoes have been constructed, they’re forcing him to walk a little bit differently,” says Debbie Denton, a senior wildlife care specialist.
Since then, the staff has seen a remarkable improvement in the penguin’s life. He can now swim and get along with the other penguins, and Lucas enjoys life without feeling the pain of a bumblefoot.
Debbie was extremely happy for Lucas, as she is very attached to the penguin. “We were pleasantly surprised at the immediate change in Lucas after we fitted him with his new boots,” she shared. “Seeing him move about now gives us hope that he may be OK going forward and able to live a full life.” It was a heartwarming moment at the zoo — being able to give hope to animals might be one of the most fulfilling roles in life.