In case you missed the news, Triumph our male resident koala has received the first koala prosthesis.
Triumph only has three feet, a congenital defect he received from birth. Instead of a foot on his right leg, he has a stump with a small foot pad on the end. While he moves around considerably well, he struggles to climb like a typical koala as putting pressure on his stump is painful. Since coming into care as a 10 month old joey, almost 4 years ago, Marley our IFAW Sponsored Vet Nurse and Triumph’s foster mum, worked tirelessly to find a prosthesis which could enhance his quality of life.
Triumph’s case presented a lot of challenges. Unlike other mammals such as cats and dogs, that use two legs from the same side when moving, koalas climb with opposite hands and feet providing them greater stability. This specific gait pattern resulted in many professionals in the field claiming it could not be done.
After a callout on social media, we began working with internationally renowned pet prosthetic specialists Bionic Pets, but it quickly became clear a hands on approach was required.
Although koalas are not his usual patients, Lismore based Dental Prosthetist, Jon Doulman offered to help. After taking numerous measurements and casts, Jon created a small rubber prosthetic boot.
For months, Triumph wore a sock on his stump which not only protected his foot pad but prepared him for an eventual prosthesis. Much to delight of volunteers and staff, Triumph allowed the boot to be attached and immediately started using his right foot. He has since been seen using it to help him climb and groom himself as well.