In a World's First, Tiger is Receiving a Prosthetic Leg

This 7-year old Indian tiger is getting a new lease on life.

Dec 9, 2019


In a World's First, Tiger is Receiving a Prosthetic Leg | This 7-year old Indian tiger is getting a new lease on life.

Prosthetics are becoming much easier and cheaper to produce for people and animals thanks to 3d printing. Even four-legged animals like pets and farm animals are having artificial legs made for them. After all, mobility matters for animals too.

But in a historic first, a tiger named Sahebrao is receiving an artificial limb. This seven-year old Indian tiger has already had the first 25-minute surgery to relieve him from the pain he has been in since his left front leg was caught in a poacher's trap in Gondmohadi village in Chandrapur district in 2012.

His limb developed gangrene and part of it had to be amputated according to the Indian Express, and since that time Sahebrao has been living in captivity at the Wildlife Rescue Center at the Gorewada Zoo. The injured tiger walked with a limp and his pain increased until he was crying out with every step he took.

The tiger was later adopted by Sushrut Babhulkar, a Nagpur-based orthopedic surgeon who was interested in finding a way to get him an artificial limb to relieve the massive pain the tiger was in.

Babhulka approached Peter Giannoudis, and orthopedics and prosthetic limb expert from the University of Leeds. For help with the project

We had completed the first phase of the project with a radiographic study in February [2019] ... the second phase of the operation was started. Sahebrao was operated for neuroma and arthritis that was causing neuralgia [pain in the nerve],” Babhulkar said.

When Sahebrao has sufficiently, the prosthetic will be attached. The limb was created in consultation with IIT Mumbai, and AO Foundation in Germany which is experienced in fixing fractures in animals according to Indian media.

"I wish to see him walk normally, like a human being getting a prosthetic leg, for the rest of his life," Babhulkar said.

After many years of declining population, India's tigers are roaring back. Thanks to conservation efforts and anti-poaching laws, there are now almost 3,000 tigers living in the wild in India. In fact, the tiger population increased 33 percent in just four years.

The laws against poaching unfortunately did not save Sahebrao from stepping into a poacher's trap. But with help from this fantastic team of experts, he is getting a new lease on life.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.