Triumph, a male koala born without a foot, has been climbing and running since he got a prosthetic foot made by a dentist, veterinarian nurse Marley Christian said on Monday.
Christian had rescued the joey koala in Australia in 2017, after she found him next to his dying mother with only three feet and a bone that was sticking out where his fourth foot should be.
She became Triumph’s primary carer at the Friends of the Koala center and was searching for a solution for his missing foot. An American company specializing in animal prosthesis tried to create a foot for Triumph, but was unsuccessful after several attempts.
Eventually, Christian found an answer closer to home. Dental prosthetist Jon Doulman had heard of Triumph’s dilemma and volunteered to take on the case.
The resulting prosthetic is pink, with a velcro strap to help keep it on Triumph’s leg and a tread on the bottom to give the koala grip while walking and climbing.
“Once I put the little boot on him and he did this little jump, then he was running around and climbing, I actually cried,” she said, explaining how Triumph became a whole new koala once the prosthesis was attached. “It’s the best thing that ever happened, I would do absolutely anything for this boy.”
“It was certainly different,” Doulman said. “It required a bit of lateral thinking in so far as coming up with the design … but it was a great feeling to be able to help him.”
Doulman is currently in the process of improving his design for Triumph, but said that the koala “seems to be quite comfortable wearing it.”
Triumph, who is nearly five years old, will need to spend the rest of his life in captivity, most likely under Christian’s care.