SYDNEY – Triumph, a male koala born without a leg, has been climbing and running since he was fitted with a prosthesis made by a local dentist, said an Australian wildlife caregiver.
Veterinary nurse Marley Christian had rescued a koala in northern New South Wales in 2017 after finding it next to his dying mother with only three legs and a protruding bone in place of the fourth.
“After I put the little boot on him and he made that little jump, then he ran and climbed, I actually cried,” she said, explaining how Triumph became a brand new koala after the prosthesis was attached.
“It’s the best thing that’s ever happened, I̵
Christian became a primary caregiver for the Triumph at the Friends of the Koala Center in Lismore, a town 136 km (84.51 miles) south of Brisbane as he sought a solution to his birth defect.
An American company specializing in animal prostheses tried to create a leg for Triumph, but failed after several attempts.
Eventually, Christian found an answer closer to home. Dentist John Dulman had heard of Triumph’s dilemma and agreed to take the case.
The resulting prosthesis is pink, with a velcro strap to keep it on the Triumph’s feet and a protector on the bottom to help the bag grip while walking and climbing.
“It was certainly different,” Dullman said. “It took a little extraneous thinking to come 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 the Triumph, but said the koala “looks quite comfortable to wear.”
Triumph, who is nearly five years old, will have to spend the rest of his life in captivity, most likely under Christian’s care.